Spring is the season of hope because the Earth has come back for the summer. Spring, like fall, introduces a mountain of work. Spring cleaning, repairing and cleaning the house inside and out, taking a first look at your flower garden to see what’s left after the rabbits have used it for a cafeteria during the winter. How many shallots survived the squirrels?

In the mariner’s town, there are laws that say all dogs must be on a leash or well penned. Cats don’t settle in as unofficial vermin hunters like they do back on the farm. Coyotes are not encouraged; the largest owl is the barn owl – good for mice, voles, etc. but too small for rabbits and squirrels. One rabbit had the audacity to spend the winter in the flower garden leaving behind evidence of a small warren behind an Iris. A foot away, beside a pile of rabbit pellets is a Spirea eaten to the ground. By now, the Spirea should be four feet tall.

Consequently, the mariner must build a rabbit fence around the back yard. Squirrels are on notice – he owns a .177 caliber air rifle with a great scope set to 30 yards.

In his town, the Ash Borer wasp has invaded much like ISIS: take no prisoners. 80% of the trees in the town are old Ash Trees. The mariner has six. Three already are stressed.

The hardest work for these old sea legs is standing on a ladder. Painting, trimming trees, cleaning gutters, topping fruit trees, all are an accident waiting to happen. If the ladder would sway a bit, like a boat does, it would be much easier – but he does all the swaying. There definitely is opportunity for a chaotic moment!

The mariner bought a chain saw that is on the end of a shaft that can extend to ten feet. That makes incidental trimming possible. When he was training to be a sailor, he learned how to rig a bosun’s chair to climb the mast. He thinks this may not work among the branches of an Ash tree. The mariner may have to pay someone to drop the infected trees – something he would have done himself only a decade ago.

There is a phenomenon in his town. There is a constant hum of two-cycle gas engines every day, all day. It starts at 8:30am and is ceaseless until well after sunset. The source is lawnmowers, leaf blowers, trimmers, cultivators, chainsaws, and power washers. It started officially on April 11. The mariner’s good friend and neighbor started the season by cutting his lawn. The mariner walked over to him to complain that he has broken the silence and for the next five months, the two-cycle drone will be endless.

The neighbor acknowledged this with a grin and added, “I know. Now my next door neighbors will have to cut their lawns so they don’t look ragged next to mine.” He knew, of course, as all the mariner’s neighbors know, the mariner lets his grass grow to four or five inches because the mariner thinks grass should look like grass rather than someone’s living room carpet. The mariner has always suspected keeping grass under control is some form of psychological power; grass is easier to control than other things in life.

The King of droning noises is the dirt track at the Fairgrounds. Every weekend, modified street automobiles without mufflers race around the track all evening. It seems almost like a ritual. All week the two-cycles drone as if paying tribute to the raucous noise at the dirt track.

The mariner lived on a country farm too long. Then, one could actually hear birds singing during the day; on many days, he could actually feel the silence. What the mariner needs is a good passage sail – maybe from St. Croix to Barbados, stopping by St. Kitts and Martinique along the way.

Ancient Mariner

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