Summer in South Georgia means the temperature is going to be close to eighty even at three in the morning. Gone for another one hundred days or so are the cool sunrises that are bug free and refreshing. This is like waking up in the mouth of a drunk who lives under an overpass. The air in warm and sticky and even if you shower in the morning just walking outside to pee makes you feel like you’ve been hanging out in a locker room with the fat guys at the Y. Dawn is a couple of hours away but there isn’t anything in the air that resembles night but the dark.
There was more burning yesterday but it wasn’t much fun. I was tired when I started and I never really got into a groove at all. I cut a path to the pond, realized a fire there would have to wait until there was more time to burn, ha ha, and worked on clearing the fence line instead. There are a lot of really large weeds in that fenceline, and there’s an old dead tree that fell a few years ago. I remember that tree fell one day when I was out in the yard working. Or more precisely it fell while I was having lunch inside and when I went back outside there was a tree down. It wasn’t very large, mind you, but it would have killed me had it landed on me. It landed on the first fence I put up and never took down once I got the rest of the property closed up. Now the fence has to be removed and the dead tree too, and into the fire it goes.
This is the day of the Dead Tree and the stuff that has built up over the years has to go. This will not be a fun fire because old wood burns poorly and weakly, too. I’m a big fan of letting things go back to nature but if I am to clear this fenceline this stuff has to go. I’m pushing nature back another twenty feet or so and making the backyard more accessible to the birds of prey that grab snakes. I’m also clearing away some low hanging branches and I realize when this is all over with my yard will look a lot like I’ve never really wanted it to look.
Next year I might turn some of this open area into a garden, and plant some peach trees. I’m turning a lot of the stuff I’m raking up into mulch so by next spring there ought to be plenty. There is a growing pile of rich black soil in the mulch pile and this year I planted peppers and tomatoes again, and hopefully they’ll do well. Once again I waited a little late and should have gotten them out a month earlier.
Fire is a strange thing. I’ve seen people use diesel fuel to start fires to clear land but they wind up with land that smells like diesel fuel. I use old leaves instead, and I can get a fire to walk on the ground, in the direction I want, simply by feeding leaves to the fire. This kills off the underbrush, the thick stuff, and the briars that grow around here with stems as thick as my thumb. The vines that have attached themselves to the young Oaks, which I am leaving, curl up and wither. But the fire will go where it wants, and where the wind blows so I must be careful. I can’t leave this one alone and hope it will turn out well. But the fire moves in and out of the fenceline, burning everything I want it too, clearing away a decade of weeds, and opening up more space. To get into the backyard now means having to cross over a wide plain with no cover.
If I expand the mulch pile then I’ll put it near the firepit, which makes sense. But this means killing off the weeds in that area and that means the yearly bloom of tiny white flowers will never be again. The vines they spring from explode out of the ground in late Summer and suddenly it looks like snow when they blossom. They climb and intertwine around the dog fennel and I hope to keep some of them but…
Lucas is healing well. The wound on his neck is nearly healed and he hasn’t been slowed down at all because of this. He’s off all his meds now and the swelling is long gone. I was told the hair would not grow back but as the would heals it looks like it will, in fact grow back just like it always was, without so much as a scar. The bite was not as bad as the one suffered by another dog who was brought in the day after Lucas. That one didn’t make it and his parents have to deal with making changes in their lives now, much like I am doing, but in a much worse way. The vet told me they wanted to save him, no matter what it cost, but the dog was small, the snake large, and the venom too much.
There have been many snake bit dogs this year, more snakes seen than normal, and more venomous snakes around than I remember. Elbow has complained about the rat snakes in her henhouse and the vipers around her yard. The vet told me she has treated three dogs for bite this year. Lucas got bit and not a week later I evicted another Cottonmouth. I cannot explain it.
My only theory is we had a very wet spring and perhaps the wet weather along with the very hot May we had built up more ground cover for them to move around in and closer too. The ones I have seen have been of various sizes and it’s not like they migrate. So the Year of the Dead Tree, the Year of the Snake, and the Year of the Fire continues.
And I still do not sleep at night.