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07/25/2005 Archived Entry: "People can be good/building a trail"

PEOPLE CAN BE GOOD SOMETIMES. In the last four days, The Yard Guy has shown up with three pick-up loads of spectacular lumber -- free, gratis, paid for solely by his own sweat. This stuff is awesome. First he turned up with a 25-foot long 6 x 6 (which he'd cut in shorter pieces for me). The monster had once served as a support beam for a house, but now his neighbor was going to burn it. So he grabbed it for me. Next, he trundles in with his little Nissan practically squashed to the ground by the sort of lumber that would get your gran'pa going about the good old days.

You wouldn't believe this stuff -- which The Yard Guy wrestled from the floor of a 1920s-vintage garage

he was hired to dismantle. The smallest pieces are 12 x 3 (actually 12 and actually 3, not some calculated fraction of that size) and are about 8 feet long. The largest pieces -- so heavy that I couldn't even help him unload them -- are 22 inches wide x 3 and as much as 12 feet long. All old-growth fir, as heavy and dense as rock. Some of it is rotted in spots. Most of it looks as if it's got another 100 years in it.

I've been stalled this summer on my backyard trail-building project. The "Mudville" portion of the trail -- a swampy mess more than 100-feet wide -- had me stumped. I could build a raised rock-and gravel turnpike over the swamp for virtually no cost; but frankly the thought of hand-hauling tons of rock down the long, treacherously steep slope to Mudville, even with The Yard Guy's help, was like staring into the gates of hell. I could more easily build a raised wooden walkway over Mudville; but that idea fluttered away on little angel's wings the moment I got the supply cost from the lumber yard.

I had about given up on trail work for this year. Then all this shows up. Enough -- with some minor additional supplies -- to bridge the worst half of Mudville. Yeah, it'll be "interesting" wrestling those 22-inch pieces down the hill. But not as "interesting" as hauling hundreds of bucketloads of rock. The Yard Guy is asking nothing for all this bounty. I'll pay him something, of course. But basically he's the kind of guy who likes to help people and to solve problems.

On days when the Internet puts the focus on the wider world, the human condition too often looks grimly more like this. Or this (a development which, BTW, makes RebelFire: Out of the Gray Zone look like a work of prophesy, rather than fiction).

But the world of actual, independently acting individuals often looks more like what The Yard Guy has done in the last few days. Thank heaven.

Posted by Claire @ 08:51 AM CST

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