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La paura è cattiva consigliera (Fear is a bad councelor)

April 18, 2012

After a couple of ridiculously hot April days (so hot that Boston Marathon officials saw several thousand runners defer their eligibility for a year in hopes that the weather would be more suitable next time) I am sitting in my backyard in the sun with a light jacket and long pants feeling gloriously chilly. Things are leafing out. The apple and peach trees are blossoming. My little elderberry bush has already bloomed. Bleeding heart, daffodils, dogwood, quince, tulips, viburnum, and vinca make for lovely splashes of color against the spring green background. Next door a roofing crew is replacing a neighbor’s shingles, smashing my illusions of sylvan seclusion. But there is even something satisfying in watching guys efficiently going about their business, and these guys are good.
Last weekend, when I was down at the farm, I took care of a couple things I had been meaning to do for a while. I finished assembling a cedar bench I’d been working on for some time. I’d shaped the bench to my satisfaction, and made four legs out of some oak I’d split and shaved round with my drawknife. So it was time to bore holes and fit the legs. Driving a two inch auger into a piece of wood that one hopes will become a special piece of furniture can be a ticklish business. When I am using any old bit of salvaged wood, goofing up is not the be a deal – just a matter of starting over. But when one finds a special piece of wood, goofing up means the project might be a total loss. I had had high hopes for this piece from the moment I had found it in the woods last fall. But “la paura è cattiva consigliera”, so I went a ahead and drove that auger into the belly of the cedar. After drilling all four holes and fitting all four legs, I think it came out alright. You can see for yourself in the following pictures, the first is taken in front of my studio in Cohasset, and the other is in my backyard in Watertown.

Speaking of my backyard, the other chore I took care of was to cut some long skinny saplings to repair the low wattle fence around my raspberry patch. It is not always easy to find saplings that are long and thin enough to do the job, but I got a good start. My original fence was several years old and rotted away to nothing. So I tore it out and replaced the wooden stacks with old copper piping (please don’t tell the copper thieves.) I know metal is not traditional, but the uprights rot so much faster than the weavers. I then wove the saplings behind and before the uprights. The pattern is reversed with each course, holding the upright firmly with their counteracting pressure. In the past, I built my fence all the way around the raspberries, but I am leaving a gap at the back this time to make it easier to clean out the leaves in the spring and to fill in gaps in the patch with raspberry plants that have suckered.

My last little project for the ninety degree April day was to build a small stone wall with some stones I had left over from a previous project. This was to be a small wall to separate the raspberry patch from the English ivy that invades our yard from next door. It’s a couple of courses tall and about ten feet long. Nothing can stop English ivy, but it is easier to manage if it has to climb over a wall and I can cut it in the open. I don’t mind English ivy per se, but I don’t like it when it grows into areas I have to work in because I happen to be allergic to it. (In fact, in some ways it’s worse than poison ivy in that it seems to come on slower and take longer to go away.) But after and hour or two I had a nice little wall and with a little luck I’ll find some larger stones down at the farm to cap it off.

The English ivy is to the left and the raspberry patch is to the right.

So it has been a good start to April despite the record high temperatures. Let’s just hope the Red Sox can keep things interesting!

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