I cut down several trees this weekend, though it wasn’t the axe-swinging cathartic event I’d hoped. The first was a Chinese elm that had sprung up in a row of hedges in front of our house. Beautiful multi-trunked thing and quite healthy. But it was already almost up to the eaves and on its way to becoming a fifty foot behemoth like its progenitor over yonder in the neighbor’s yard. Down it went with a few quick strokes of the saw. Now the front of the house has a big gap, like a five-year-old’s smile.
Next came the camphor tree that had sprouted less than a foot away from the house and snaked its way up and over the roof. That one took more sawing and care. But man oh man, the smell of fresh camphor is incredible. If only I could attach a wood ship to this post. But I’ll explain—it’s like dry sweetgrass mixed with the clean tang of wet eucalyptus (Californians will know what I mean) with a slight hint of Far Eastern incense. I have a palm-sized section of wood sitting on our entry table that I sniff every time I pass. Each time I detect something different—coriander, nutmeg, salt water.
Now we have a new sense of light in the dining room since these two trees are gone, and we can see out to the street. Next stop: porch swing. I would make a joke about being able to sit on the porch with a stoneware jug of rotgut and a rifle, but since I found a brass rifle shell in the bushes after dragging away the Chinese elm, well…
Since the SoCal winter rains have made a panoply of weeds over the former bare dirt of Casa Soutowood, it was time to Do Something. That something involved running the push mower over everything until we had a uniform level of green that looks almost, if you squint, like a lawn. Triumph! Without any work we have greenery in our front yard. It looks good from far and far from good. But the yard is now home to ladybugs and worms which makes me very happy indeed.
An aside on the joys of the push mower: when you get this thing up to speed, the blades spin and throw bits of plants and grass like the Witch King striking asunder the armies of men in the opening scene of the Fellowship of the Ring. Even though it doesn’t get the taller weeds, this thing is wicked fun. Got mine from a secondhand store for $15. No sweaty cursed pull-starting, no clouds of pollution, and it’s easy to move and put away. And if you run with it, you can make the blades a silver blur of slicing mayhem! Not that I’ve tried this.
Bread count this weekend: one loaf of heavenly golden sandwich bread and two small Finnish wheat loaves called hiivaleipa. Former is highly addictive lightly toasted with butter. Latter is surprisingly light and nutty and tasty with berry jam.
Roomba activities: mostly quiet and industrious work in the living and dining rooms. Except when it grabbed up a strap on a plastic container and dragged it around the living room like an alley cat dragging a fish carcass. It got set right, and recovered its spirits enough to sing a celebration song when it found its way back to the charging station after only four attempts.
Childcare tip of the day: don’t feed hard crackers to a toddler in a reclined car seat. Coughing, choking, and spit-up will result. We all learned something on Sunday afternoon.