Wednesday, October 20 2004
I began work on the east slab resurfacing project today. I started out by putting one by six treated lumber all the way around the edge of the slab to isolate the house clapboards from the additional layer of concrete and stone that I will be adding. In one corner of the slab, where it is surrounded on two sides by house, I will be raising the slab's surface more than five inches to increase the rate of runoff away from the house.
I'm somewhat concerned about the size of this project (160 square feet), especially this late in the season. I worry about using mortar and concrete outdoors on the night of a hard frost, since I don't really know what happens to setting concrete in such conditions. Interestingly, we've yet to have a frost this year here in the Catskill foothills. I remember back in the Appalachians of Virginia we'd usually get our first frost in late September, so I have to deduce that this must be an unusually warm autumn, at least with regard to its nights. During the days, temperatures are consistently too low for casual comfort, usually hovering in the low 50s. But it's perfect weather for working outdoors. There's no sweat and no mosquitos. The only problem, if any, is the glare of the perpetually low-hanging sun in the sky. That always depresses me, as does autumn's increasingly-evident death and abandonment.
When I gather rocks in the woods these days, I almost never find things living under them. I find spiders lingering feebly and proudly beside their egg cases, their lives' works, and I'm reminded of the poignant ending of Charlotte's Web. I'm careful to relocate such egg masses as well as the spiders guarding them, though my meddling probably isn't good for them.
The colors of autumnal foliage, which I initially thought were rather bland this year, have become spectacular in the past week or so. For a couple weeks their spectacle can actually redeem the season, though this is something I forget every year once the leaves are gone.
Steps leading down to the Stick Trail.
The east slab, before any resurfacing actually takes place.
The house's western retaining wall, as it looks after I completely reworked the drainage on its uphill side.
I've covered the barren soil with pine needles and leaves to make it look better.
Note the path on the left, which used to be barren concrete until Gretchen cajoled me into resurfacing it back in May.
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