peg ladder in the hemlocks
Friday, December 17 2010
I've been a bit ruthless with evergreens fifty feet and further to the south of the house, but the nearer ones are part of the character of the house's setting and I've cut them some slack. Still, they're evergreens, and to the extent they're diminishing winter sunlight, they're still a problem. My solution has been to prune away their lower branches, but there is a limit to how high a ladder can go. To get the higher branches, I was going to have to climb the trees. Today I managed to climb a pair of hemlocks well above the height my 24 foot ladder could reach. In an earlier prune back in 2006, I'd left the stumps of side branches, and these made for something of a peg ladder for me to climb. As I sawed off branches, I left their stumps and the peg ladder grew higher. I continued cutting until I opened up a clear path for sunlight at least until mid-February (when the sun is higher and its light less scarce). I might live in a technologically-rich world, but the fact that the actual environment of the household is maintained using mostly sustainable technologies requires me to have a deep connection to things about which most Americans can stay blissfully ignorant, things like the location of the ecliptic and the behavior of local winds (interestingly, for example, we experience easterly breezes nearly as much as westerly ones, probably due to the proximity of high Catskill peaks to the west).
This evening I began watching a reality show entitled Gold Rush Alaska on the Discovery Channel. It chronicles the adventure of a group of middle-aged Oregonians who, down on their luck financially, decide to sell all their stuff, buy a bunch of machinery, and ship off to Alaska to dig around in an old mining claim in hopes of finding gold. It's not long into the series before you realize part of why these people are suffering financially, recession or otherwise: they're a bunch of knuckleheads. They seem incapable of operating heavy machinery without running into other vehicles, they rely more on their guts than their minds, but the kicker for me, the thing that showcased their lack of blue collar common sense, was when they went to hook a dozer to jumper cables and somehow hooked them up backwards. For me, watching the series gives me some of the joy I get from engineering shows (such as World's Toughest Fixes) with the bumbling uncertainty of a "Joe-the-Plumber-as-hero" reality show. It's one thing to watch a welder with 20 years experience cut a rudder off a cargo ship, and it's quite another to watch a failed real estate salesman trying to work an angle grinder. The former has a tendency to make me feel insecure about my own mechanical skills, white the latter makes me feel like I could build a working submarine.
Once I started watching, I couldn't stop.
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