Having some time off to write usually means something is going to happen so I can’t write. I got some things done yesterday and I was looking forward to a nice quite evening when Lucas went storming out the back door barking his head off. For the thousandth time I thought to myself that Bert would have never done that. I know it isn’t fair to Lucas but Bert’s judgment on what was worthy of barking was superb. But it is rare that Luke barks at something in the backyard so I went to check.
The top of a tree has broken off and landed on the old kennel were I still keep a water bucket for the dogs. This is where Bert died forty days ago. Now there is a geyser of water shooting up where the pipe has broken off at the ground. It’s seven thirty so there is no time to go get things to fix it with and I am going to spend the night with no water. In good truth, I understand water the way Michael V. Smith understood water. I do know there are billions of people without water, good clean, well water, every night. I know I am fortunate enough to have that decision as to whether or not I go a few hours without, as many do not.
I am made entirely of the ambisinister. There is no job so small it cannot be turned into a monster by my ineptness and this job is small considering the plumbing part, but there is a lot of wood to be cut here. Some of it is over my head and much of it is twisted and trapped and bound within itself and it is leafy and brambly. There is danger, real danger, in a chainsaw, but there is far too much thick stuff for an axe, and I want to get the water restored quickly. I plan out the cuts and then I go to get the stuff for the plumbing, and I think about my plan.
Cut the stuff out on the edges first, relieve the stress on the big stuff, and work myself inwards and then upwards. Cut against binding, and do not cut with the tip of the saw. Stand to one side and never look directly into the chain. I run through how to cut this mess a dozen times there and a dozen times back. I build the plumbing and then crank up the saw.
I call a friend and tell her if she doesn’t hear from me in fifteen minutes to call. Every fifteen minutes I check in, get checked in, but alone is not somewhere to be with a chainsaw. I cut at the ends and work myself into the old kennel where the pipe is. I cut a piece and I watch as it slowly opens up. Odd, I thought this was a binding piece, son of a … the piece is caught by another I cannot see and the moment of realization comes quick enough for me to drop the saw. Screw the damage to the saw, drop the damn thing, drop it down like the lead guitarist for the best rock group on earth in a lightning storm. I’m already moving when the limb whips out to maim the slow or the ignorant. It’s a baseball bat thick piece of green wood that arcs across the kennel with bone breaking velocity as the pressure is relieved but I am already gone.
You’re in one piece because you are good. You nearly were hurt because you think you are better than you really are. I take a break and think about the next cut. Good men, much better than I, have died just like this. Chain saws are awesome as hell but they are also scary bad things. I make a cut on a thick log and realize I can get to the broken pipe now, and leave clean up stuff for later.
One side of the kennel is where I connected the fence when I fenced off the back yard, to give Bert and Sam more room to play, and like any man, I am pleased my handiwork is hard to undo. All of this is useless now, because I fenced in my entire property to give Bert and Sam even more room to play, and I remember when I led them into the new space, both the first fenced in area and then the next. The first was magic for them both and they loved it. Opening up the entire back acre where there was woods and bramble, well! I was the best dog dad ever. Lucas has never known any other world and he seems so happy here with us. I think about getting him a puppy, a girl puppy, and I feel it.
I’m making one of the last cuts when I feel cold liquid on my leg. It freaks me out, but as I back away I see water gushing out of the ground. My neighbor has an elderly World War Two Vet tending his horses and the man has turned the water back on before I was done. Wow! That was very cold water, but I have to laugh. Water off, plumbing back together, wait half an hour then the water is turned back on.
There are still the tomato plants to get into the ground, and I load up the real wheelbarrow to take mulch to the wheelbarrow I use as a planter. Exhaustion tells me to do this tomorrow, but I want to finish this day. The soil is rich and black. I made this soil myself, from leaves and moss and all things biodegradable from my house. I see pieces of newspapers and eggshells in the soil and I see pieces of cardboard boxes and pieces of paper bags. I mix the soil carefully, with my hands, I feel the earth speak to me.
The pitbull girl dog trots up with great caution, but she wants to see who I might be. This might be the neighbor’s dog, or she might belong to a visitor, but I have never seen her. She is beautiful. She has a collar and rabies tags, but who is she? Tan and white, about twenty pounds or so, she is young but in great shape. She is no stray. She allows me to pet her then leans into it. Oh, yes, you do know how to pet a girl dog! Suddenly she puts her front paws on my shoulders and hugs me. This is someone’s baby. This is a dog accustomed to love. I cannot keep her. Someone calls. She bounds away, chasing after some people I did not see a hundred yards or so away.
A stray is coming my way. I can feel it. I’m getting a puppy.