Happiness is…

I grew up in the late 1960s and early ’70s, which means that not only do I have fond memories of Jonathan Livingston Seagull but my mind is trained to finish the sentence “Happiness is…” with: “…a warm puppy.” Not any warm puppy, but Charles Schultz’s Snoopy, who was very big at the time.

I was thinking of this recently.

So much has gone wrong with this project. I made a quick, stupid mistake — a math mistake, naturally; probably because I am overtired. At the last minute a helpful store clerk, knowing money is tight, offered me a cheaper option on materials and I just didn’t think through the ramifications. I only realized my error when the second day of big expensive work was finished. Incorrectly. I believe it can be fixed, but it was definitely hard to cope as dusk fell and I was muddy and exhausted and looking at work done wrong. Due to me.

Meanwhile the weather has been impossible. Worse than the predicted forecast. High winds, thunder and lightning, hail, and rain. Endless rain. On the news they are talking about 100-year floods. Last night the edge of the barn where we had been working was under water. I had wrapped the tops of the buried cardboard Sonotubes in plastic bags and then covered them with tarps held down by rocks, but it’s hard to imagine they are salvageable after being overrun by a river of flooding. There is, of course, no way to check until the water goes down.

Yesterday between storms we only managed a few licks on the job. I have felt almost too weary to problem-solve.

D has told me for several weeks that he would come out to cut the fallen trees off the fences in my pastures. He also promised to cut the half-dozen tall black cherries left standing in the back acres after the logging.

(Lucy adored these spindly trees — they reminded her of the trees in the savannah in The Lion King, her favorite movie — but to me they looked more like truffula trees in Dr. Seuss. Moreover black cherry leaves are poisonous to livestock, so I wanted the trees cut down for firewood.)

However one thing after another has come up, it has rained incessantly, and D could not make it out after work with his chainsaw.

Yesterday the excavator trundled to the back acres along the south pasture line, carefully lifting each fallen balsam off my fence, smashing it, and dropping the useless litter back into the woods.

Then in an hour all the cherry trees were yanked out of the ground, one by one, and carried to the front acres in dangling bunches, where they are now stacked, waiting for a chainsaw to cut them into stove-lengths.

One problem solved!

I watched from the other end of the property. Despite my tiredness and discouragement, I felt a grin spread across my face. There is really nothing like the magic of heavy equipment in talented hands.

Happiness is… an old friend on a yellow excavator.

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