My busy work schedule during the summer season rarely gives me an opportunity to get to Maine. Luckily, at the end of August we were graced with the visit of three lovely female tattoo artists from Philly. As much as I would enjoy their company as work mates, the time was ripe for me to excuse myself and take a trip to the woods. As a person who treasures his times of solitude, the hoards of tourists on the Cape can make me very uncomfortable over the period of summer months. That many people jammed into one space makes my skin crawl. I feel like I'm immersed in some kind of human ant colony. Provincetown and the outer cape takes on the inertia of the colony: continuous, mindless movement of doing and taking and consuming. More and more ants arrive all the time, filling the limited land mass and septic tanks to capacity, all with the same frantic goal of relaxation. They all do it together, all at the same time. It's what people do and that makes it okay. That's normal. normal scares me.
It is my ultimate goal to live in the house sculpture. It's location in the great North woods with it's "hearty" winters gives my wife pause.. but she's up to give living there a try, under expected conditions: there must be functional, modern plumbing. I would want nothing less for my lovely bride. The point is she's into it! All I have to do install a septic system, sewer pipe, drain pipe, vent pipe, water lines, fixtures and appliances. Easy. I suppose I must finish building the kitchen and bathroom too... All that may take awhile. I absolutely must spent a great amount of time in Maine this winter and finish this house!
Now this is more than just coaxing my girl into living with me in some shack in the wilderness. Having a house to live in on property I own (and will own outright in a few years) means something. It means that I will have created a home for a family that is solid and payed for. It will be a place for dogs and cats and kids to run amuck making adventures and a great many other things, thanks to the possibilities that a good chunk of property affords. The community around it is no economic power dome but it is a very friendly, self sufficient community. It is a good place for a kid to grow up and learn many useful skills. I might not make as much money up there as in other places like Cape Cod or New York but I won't need to. I would only have to make a fraction and could still support a small family. My expenses are already low as this place is concerned. Over the next few years they will only go down as the tractor and land is paid off. That leaves only food, utilities, insurance (blaugh) and of course taxes. Not much. If all goes well I maybe able to set aside a few bucks for the kids to go to college or mortuary school or whatever... but I suppose I am getting ahead of myself...
For the present I need to focus on this septic system. This alone is no small task and will likely be the most costly project connected to this entire undertaking. First thing I did
was call Ted Pellerin, the local soil tester. I needed him to look at my site, test the soil and stake out the location. I had arrived Thursday evening and was going to be there until I had to leave on Monday morning. Ted came by on Friday afternoon. He had been there before when I first bought the property and had tentative plans to build some kind of camp but my plans had since changed. He was surprised to see how much it had grown up over the last few years and was delighted to see what I had been up to. "It's a hippie house!" he exclaimed. He was really into the whole project and was hoping to do something similar to make retirement affordable. The next day he came by to show his wife. I was really happy to get such positive feedback from one of the locals.
After the site had been determined and test pits dug to determine drainage capacity, I was ready to start clearing the area. I sharpened the chains on my chainsaws and mixed a new batch of fuel. I felled several trees and cut them into firewood. I loaded the pieces into my truck and took to the porch on the other side of the house and stacked them into rows. After repeating this process a couple of times I was ready to do some work with the backhoe. After the tractor was warmed up and lubed I proceeded to rip out the stumps of the trees I had cut as well as those cut by Skip, the logger before I owned the land. Pulling stumps with a backhoe can go quickly if the stump is small or many years old but can be big projects as with big hardwoods like maple and oak. In any case removal involves digging around the stump and severing the roots until the hoe can pull it free. At that point I wrap the backhoe's arm around the stump like a bully putting a kid in a head lock and drag it to my big brush pile at the edge of the property where I drop it with all the other stumps.
Over the course of my three day stay I managed to clear the area of trees and stumps and cut and stack a fair amount of firewood for the upcoming winter. I had hoped to get some work done on the house, but alas it was not to be. I gathered up Sprocket my cat and headed back to the Cape.