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Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Hate Hawthorn

Actually, I despise hawthorn. Not Nathaniel (with an "e"), though Demi Moore's version of "The Scarlet Letter" could have tipped the balance on old Nat. No, I'm talking about the bush. Some people call it thornapple, some thornberry. I call it misery on a stick, and if you let it, the bush will turn into a tree that slashes through sweatshirts and jeans as well as unprotected skin. Even in spring and summer, fleece-lined elk-hide gloves are essential. The picture on the left shows why - and these aren't the worst examples.

For nearly five years, Karen and I have been trying to get a house built up in the hills above where we're currently living. More about that in future blogs, but suffice it to say that it's been a long, frustrating process. We're getting closer, and hope to start construction this summer. So, in anticipation, Karen suggested we start clearing our putative home site of deadfall, slash and
hawthorn. Ten hours of work with a chainsaw and an ATV-mounted trailer resulted in multiple scratches and bruises, but also a mountainous brush pile of hawthorn branches.

This morning, after breakfast, I finished building the pile and, armed with a propane torch, lit it up. The flame caught quickly, but the brush at the bottom of the pile was still damp from a wet winter and spring, and the fire just wouldn't spread to the other edges of the pile. So, if the fire won't spread to the wood, you spread the wood to the fire. I spent the next three hour moving wood from around the pile to the hottest part of the bonfire. Finally, the pile was nearly completely consumed. I threw the remaining unburned branches onto some smoldering ashes and, in doing so, found a half dozen pieces of barbed wire that were probably attached to old fence posts from previous burns. There's just no end to it.

So, now the home site is cleared and looking good. With any luck, we'll get our builder's contract and estimate early next week and, if it's in our ballpark, start shopping for a construction loan. Between now and summer, I hope I'll be posting updates and photos of our "excellent adventure," and that this newly-cleared hillside will be the site of our next and last home.

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