Saturday, November 02, 2002

Today I worked with my hands. Woke up early to go to Milton, WI to build new Ice Age Trail in a small tract of woods between a road and a new housing development. Show up with tools and no one is there. When the Rock County chapter of the Ice Age Trail published their newsletter, it said trail work was only scheduled for Nov. 3. Carla Hanson, secretary, recognized the gaffe and e-mailed members that work was also on Saturday, but nobody showed. Esther and cleared about 50 feet of trail on an old railroad bed. The tough part removing stumps from small trees in the way. Easy part smoothing the tread. The soil is very loamy and soft. We clear a thick patch of brambles and establish trail. Left a humongous pile of brush in our wake after three hours of steady labor. My hands are still twitchy from gripping the tools/

Afterwards, we go to downtown Milton and have lunch at the Milton Family Restaurant. It is such a pleasant, sunny, blue sky fall day that after lunch we take a walk around town. Beautiful old brick homes, windows that distort the view slightly. Then it is back to Rockford to pick up our composte before going to Esther's parent's place. The Larson farm is a peaceful oasis to me, all about warm bread and hugs and afternoon sunshine. I help shovel composte from one bin to a cart, and then distributed it throughout the garden. Then I shoveled the newer composte from a full bin into the recently emptied bin. Farm cats investigate our actions, sniff and paw at un-decomposed eggshells, pooh-pooh the finds and scamper off to the woodpile behind the garage looking for mice.

After dinner we look at our old photos which have been in storage. Most of our photos, pre-1999, I have not looked at since we moved from Antigo. Looking at photos validates my existence, tells me I've lived a life, been places, have friends and family. But I see pictures from college days and notice, wow, I have aged a bit since then. I look older now. And so does Esther. But she has lost weight, especially since the Antigo days. Wisconsin northwoods living will fatten you up. Harsher winters slow the metabolism. People are friendlier, more apt to invite you to dinner and feed you till you're bursting. Months of that will expand the waistline. I'm so glad I took the time to document life experiences. These after-dinner reminisces are a treasure.

Then it was on to Woodman's to get groceries. Checking out Esther notices the person bagging groceries is Steve Hardt's mom, Shirleen. I remember she worked for Motorola in Harvard. I remember writing about the plant shutdown for the Beloit Daily News. She shames me, asks why I never come over anymore. I will go over there tomorrow after trail work. She tells the cashier, "These people are the godparents of my grandchildren." And I am shamed even more. I have not seen Steve Hardt or his children in over a year. And we live in the same town. He's going through a messy divorce, and I've called him a number of times, but he never calls me back. Always, always, the onus of maintaining a relationship rests on me. I like Steve, and have a connection with my childhood friend that is still easygoing, even after long absences. So I'll pay a visit, even if he fails to make any effort to stay in touch with me.

It's getting late. I'm tired and farting wicked gas, as I have been the last three days. Time to call it a day and hit the sack. I've earned my rest. It has been a fulfilling day.

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