Falling Trees

Sorry if You Were Offended Last Week, a Fallen Oak, and End of the Calendar Year Musings

First An Insincere Apology

Well, the negativity certainly crept into this column last week. This week feels better, albeit only slightly. The end of this treacherous season is in sight and I think I may make it through. The winter solstice is a few days away; the days will start growing once again. Regular infusions of eggnog and rum, schnapps, brandy, or bourbon are succeeding in smoothing down some of the rougher edges. I even went and saw the Yule Logs play a set at Magnolia Gift and Garden’s annual holiday gala, and while I will not disavow the fact that I hate everything they stand for, the band puts on a damn fine show. So anyhow, if you allowed yourself to be offended by the words I wrote last week, then for that I apologize. As the Christians would say, “God bless you.” In British I believe the expression is closer to “bugger off.”

The Property Provides

We had a large oak go down during that windy soaker that roared through the northstate a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately it wasn’t near any structures, though it did end up leaning against my neighbor’s wire fence. So far I’ve spent a day with the chainsaw clearing the wood and brush and managed at least to remove the limbs that are crossing property lines. The bulk of the tree still awaits my attention, but I think I’ll wait until the weather clears. While I feel badly for the loss of a magnificent and otherwise healthy oak, I know where next year’s firewood is coming from.

There are at least a hundred mature oaks on our land. This morning while I was soaking in the tub I was contemplating the notion of possibly getting government grants for the hundreds of more trees Trish is planting. Could we claim we are establishing a carbon sink? That is what we are doing. The plants Trish is putting in the ground are primarily ornamental—meaning there is nothing to harvest from them. Basically we are expanding the existing forest.

Happy Early New Year

Synthesis takes a week off here over the holidays, and so these will be the last words you read from me for 2014. It’s been a tough and a trying year in some ways. The community has lost some good people. Those of us left carry on, taking with us the lessons and memories of the ones we love who have left us. The memories don’t feel like enough, and the lessons we learn take time to sink in, and sometimes even after they do, they still don’t make much sense. It’s a funny life, this life.

On a positive note, I’ve taken to wearing plus size women’s tights underneath my clothing, as opposed to the more traditional long underwear. These tights are inexpensive and warm; less bulky and a lot more stylish than plain old cotton. Right now I’m wearing a pair with a print of reptile skin emblazoned on them and feeling pretty good about myself. You should give it a try.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.