The cold, drizzly, overcast conditions of the morning slowly began to clear in the afternoon, and by the time Mr. Skinner pulled into the laneway leading up to his cabin around supper-time, there was more blue sky then clouds. The temperature had climbed to 22 C (71 F). Once the van was unloaded, he made some coffee, brought out a lawn chair and sat down to survey the property. For the most part, it was just as he had left if back in November. A few more big limbs had broken off one of the Weeping Willow trees and lay shattered in the grass, like a scattering of broken bones. He would wait until Saturday to begin cutting the grass.
Tonight he would just sit in his lawn chair with his coffee and his binoculars, relaxing and enjoying the sense of the place. A Red Squirrel was scampering between the pines, driving his dog crazy. Across the river, he spied a Porcupine high in a tree, asleep or just resting. A Ban Beaver swam downstream. He saw a number of birds. Robins, crows, chipping sparrows, rose-breasted grosbeaks and turkey vultures. A Veery echoed from somewhere near the river, as did a Black-billed Cuckoo. A hummingbird went zipping past his chair. Across the road, he could hear a Golden-winged Warbler. Common Yellow-throats sang from somewhere near-by. He sat there until dark.
Inside, he put on the radio. WCMU. It was time to read his book, Wings in the Meadow, until he was ready for sleep.
Mr. Skinner woke up at 5:30, just as it was beginning to get light. He put water on to boil, so he could wash up. While waiting for the water, he took a coffee yogurt out of the cooler. That was his breakfast. It was going to be a busy day. Lots of work to do and for some reason, his neck and right shoulder were terribly sore this morning.
He had been cutting the grass at the cabin since 1983 – 31 years. Most years, he did it 4 or 5 times. Four weeks at least between cuttings. He always cut the lowland first. The grass here was thicker and wetter due to the proximity of the river. The area around the cabin was next. The grass here was very sparse, more weeds than grass and a lot of pine needles. The last section to cut was the “old” road-bed. He wasn’t sure who owned this piece, maybe it belonged to the county. But he liked to keep it cut anyway, as it just made the cabin look better.
If he worked steady, he could get the whole thing done in a day. But he seldom worked at it that way. Instead, he took breaks to sit in the shade, sip cold drinks and put his eyes and ears to work. One thing he noticed was that the Marsh Marigolds were in full bloom. It seemed a little later than normal. Another interesting sighting was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. He thought that was a little earlier than normal.
It was a good weekend. And Mr. Skinner is already looking forward to his next trip.