News From The Woods - November 30, 2002

NEWS FROM THE WOODS

By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published November 30, 2002


"Storing Nuts For The Winter"


This time of year - at the holidays - time management becomes sort of a blur. Halloween, then immediately following (the next day) is "our" birthdays. Robert and I both share the same birth date. Then comes Thanksgiving, followed closely behind by that Granddaddy of all holidays (especially for children) Christmas. Oh yes, let's not forget bringing in the New Year! A lot of stuff goes on for those sixty days. Mostly a lot of shoving back from the dinner table. I've always made it a rule that our family does not drag out the house Christmas lights until at least the day after Thanksgiving. This year, a week before Turkey Day I found myself staring at both our oldest sons, who happened to drop in on the same day at the same time for a change. The impulse was too much to resist. I couldn't stare this gift horse in the moth. I thanked Providence for delivering both strong boys at the same time, and immediately put them to work stringing the outside lights during the clear and warm fall day. However, I did NOT turn the lights on - aside from a last minute check of circuitry - until after we had Thanksgiving Dinner.

The procurement of the tree is the next step. Live or fake? That has always been the big question in recent years. We have always gone out and "bagged" our own tree from Mother Nature. But each year it seems to be a bit more hassle. I suppose one day I will have to give in and invest in one of those too-perfect looking modern marvels, with each little twinkling light correctly in place for all eternity. Well, after imaging that I'm still not quite ready, so I must ready the troops, drag out the chain saw, and comb the woods for this years "perfect" natural tree. By the way - for those of you concerned about the steady decline of cedar trees due to our yearly sojourn, don't fret. I always tote each tree down to the lake after the first of the New Year and add it to the ever-growing bass farm down at the dock. We try not to waste resources here in the Ozarks.

For the first time in literally years, I am feeling pretty good as we go into winter. This year I have 14 rick of wood at the ready, all stacked and placed logistically for quick access from either upstairs or downstairs fireplaces. We have a full tank of propane at the ready and have managed to pre-pay the next refill. I got the hot tub fixed and bought a new cover for it so it only takes a minute to prepare it for use and it's right up there at the perfect muscle-soothing temperature. The new cover has lock down straps so the hard winter wind won't blow the top off at 3 AM. That also means I don't have to cover the cover with a heavy tarp, which is a real pain to take off and recover. Valuable soaking time was lost in the past. No more.

The household's tired old deep chest freezer finally gave up the ghost last year and I've just now gotten around to replacing it with a smaller and more efficient chest freezer. We've slowly been stocking up with meat and frozen veggies, and the neighbors have had good luck fishing this fall so we have snagged several nice sealed bags of bass and catfish fillet. Yum! There's even some room left for storage of the season's first snowballs for a late Spring snowball fight!

My pal Randy Keck got sick and tired of listening to me complain about my "slow leaks" in the studio roof. It seems that years ago when we first constructed the roof, my contractor (and I use that term loosely) didn't put much thought into the watersealing chores. Through the years the roof has developed a "temper" when the rains blows in from the North or West. When it blows just wrong water seeps in and drips directly over my outboard equipment racks. This is definitely not a good thing, even though it really has that Ozark look to it with the dishpans all sitting on top of the gear. Randy climbed up on the studio roof and did some much needed patching of holes in the joints when the rubber seal roof material meets the side of the house. Now we're anxiously waiting for the first big North Westerner to blow in from Kansas and Oklahoma this winter to see how well he knows his handiwork.

So bring it on, Old Man Winter! We're stocked and ready for you this year.

I want to wish each and every one of you.... friends... family..... web surfers cruising by..... all of you (and you know who you are) the Merriest of Christmas' and the happiest of New Years. Try spending more time with your loved ones next year. Do something nice for a stranger. Try to remember that, despite all the crap going on down here on this dirty little planet, that there IS a higher purpose for all of us if we'd just take a moment to recognize it now and then. Sometimes (MOST of the time) it's staring us right in the face and we're too busy scrambling for the means to support ourselves to see it.

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