I figure I have very few days left for this kind of thing.
Stand here with me, on the open-air porch. It’s 8:30 am, and 19 degrees F. The sun is brilliant on the snow. Directly out the windows, a scattering of pine, birch, fallen trees, probably stone outcrops under the snow, and some refuse (previously mentioned).
There is a breeze, chuffing lightly, the dying remnant of yesterday’s wind storm. All that can be heard is the rustling of branches and the rattling of last year’s dried leaves.
That is all. No voices. No engines. No road traffic. No airplanes. No radio or TV. No footfalls. No strange creaks, cracks, or groans (those come later, as the ice on the roof thaws). No other sound within in the range of human hearing. As the crisp air chills any exposed skin, I breathe in the peace of this relative silence, and imagine the work of the mind that is soon to come to this place — our own labors, themselves quiet enough, the soft click of a keyboard, the creak of a chair, a chuckle.
It is the why.
Follow me. We leave the property and turn north. It’s 2.1 miles to the “main road.” About 1/3 mile after leaving, we’ve gone down a steep hill (how will that be going up, in weather?) and up another rise, and emerged on a plateau-like stretch. To the right the road is lined with trees, and a broad field rises up to a farm on the ridge to the east. To the left (west) the land falls away sharply across another barren hay field, a pristine white canvas, not even any snowmobile tracks. Beyond, a wide alluvial valley, and in the distance, a line of snow-capped peaks — probably 1000-footers, babies in Maine’s pantheon. Probably the line of peaks guarding Skowhegan and Eaton Mountain Ski Area, about 15 miles distant as the crow flies.
Pictures do not do it justice. We’ll try on a crystal clear day, with a better camera.
As for the business of today — set aside romantic naturalism! I:
- Met with the heating company rep, walked out our requirements, talked BTUs and condensers and PEX tubing. Expecting quotes in a day or two.
- Chopped at the berm of ice on the road, hoping to free up a parking space in what will be the driveway — but not sufficiently to hazard pulling the car down, for fear of getting it stuck. More tomorrow.
- Started installing the new locksets and deadbolts on all three entryway doors, but was stymied in all three cases by a variety of problems including thoroughly stripped and frayed screwholes for the strikeplates and latch assemblies. Bought wood filler on the way home.
- Met my new favorite insurance agent in Newport and signed the papers for our ‘supplemental’ renovation insurance policy. She sang the praises of the “Midcoast” and its remote rurality combined with access to good health care and a wide range of seacoast, mountain, and lake attractions. She suggested I experience Greenville and Moosehead Lake.
- The electric is coming on at 7 am. I will arrive at 10 to test it. Important to leave the breakers for the water pump and heater OFF.
- Plastic sheeting on the porch windows. Will restrict the view but protect our work and the living space.
- Provided the electric works, mount the mailbox.
- Pull down wall paneling and ceiling tiles.
- Make a few calls, such as to a chimney guy recommended by the heating guy.
- Visit town hall if I can get there before they close at 12:30.
And breathe in the silence.