Days 3, 4, & 5

These titles and dates are about to get confusing…Day 4 happened on May 2. Bleh.  Anyways, maybe as the summer goes on I’ll get a better system.  And I’ll get better at shortening my posts.  Thanks to those who make it through, no worries to those who don’t want to read my ramblings all the way!

*spoiler alert: send me letters! Mail info at the bottom of 5-2-13!*

5-1-13
I forgot to mention I rolled my ankle pretty badly yesterday.  I took Mama’s phone advice and wrapped it in a vinegar soaked washcloth overnight.  This morning it’s smelly, pruny, and feels about like it did yesterday, but it’s not swollen, so I suppose the vinegar did the trick.  We’ll see how it feels after tromping on it for a while.

Moreover, Daddy, the son of a postman (Grandpa, enriching my life from beyond the grave, I love you), remembered you can set up a “general delivery” mail thing: basically, you tell people to send mail to a city with your name on it and it gets sent to that town’s post office.  Cochran is a heck-of-a-lot closer than the DNR office in Fort Valley!  Next time I get adventurous, I’ll pay a visit to the post office and see how they feel about general delivery mail there.  I’ll be sure to keep you updated as I find out more. J

Today I get to drive!  Well…I get to drive the UGA truck over the river and through the woods to Oaky Woods WMA check station, where Josh is living. We’ll go around to private properties and reassemble hair snares, much like we did yesterday.  I’m hoping for less ankle rolling, ticks, and “scenic routes.”  Don’t get me wrong, chillin’ in the truck was fun yesterday, but I like working, even if it means my hands and back will hurt tomorrow. 
Well, we’re 1 out of 3 for my hopes for the day. 
We did, in fact, not roll any ankles, but we took many the scenic route, and I added a tally to my tick counter. 

We put up a couple hair snares, but mostly did scouting for future sites and previous sites…which included attempting to float through a cypress lowland looking for a hair snare that was “right off the road.”  By the way, it wasn’t right off the road; in fact, we didn’t find it at all.  We found all the mud though.  All of it.  I’m glad I’m a small person, gravity worked in my favor for that one.  The seclusion and distance from his family is wearing Josh down, and his eyes lit up when I told him about general delivery mail.  I pray it works for his sake and mine, and I pray he can find the strength to blow through these next few months.

We finished around 5 and headed home: Josh to *hopefully* organize a to-do list for the morning (we’re going to try to set up 12 hair snares…very ambitious) and me to cook, work out (a.k.a. Sayaw today), and relax.  I’m settling in, as one would expect, but I know not to get too attached to this down time: soon there will be two other hot, sweaty, smelly, ticky, tired, hungry people trying to get the same alone time.  I’m relishing the time to myself, but also looking forward to having someone I can teach Cribbage.  
5-2-13
I’ve reached equilibrium: for as many days as I’ve been down here, I have pulled that many ticks.  It’s going to be a long summer.  In other, less gross news, we got 7 snares up today.  It’s not 12, but it is a lot considering what we did to get to them.  Most of them today were on private land, and that particular section is being logged, so we dodged log trucks and various tigercat equipment to travel down awfully rutted clay roads and through 6-10 inch standing puddles.

We counted up what has been done so far, and we’re pretty sure we only have 48 snares to put up and 9 to check.  While this seems like a lot, we are considerably ahead of where they were this time last year.  We have 126 total from summer 2012, and most of those hadn’t been set up by this point in May.  Moreover, once we get the rest of these set up, we’ll probably set up a few new ones and still be ahead of schedule.  High five!

As far as the actual snare setup, it’s pretty straightforward: barbed wire around three trees at two different heights, with an eventual bag of bait (corn and scent) hanging eye-level in the middle.  It’s the arrival and departure from the sites that is time consuming, tedious, difficult, and occasionally exciting. 

We use Josh’s iPhone and a small GPS unit to watch our current location, the snare location, direction, and distance.  We try to match the roads seen on the GPS to the roads seen on the iPhone with reality…but usually one of those is missing.  So, we drive down the most inviting dirt roads we find, hoping they curve in the correct directions and don’t have flooded spots.  Usually our hopes are dashed in the clay-dirt.  3-point-turn is Josh’s middle name by now.  But, eventually, we find the spot.  We wield a machete and hedge clippers, using those to mark our path in and out of the woods so that we can (hopefully) find it later.  Note to self: always keep your machete sharp.  It’s hard to practice kali (and feel competent) in the woods if the machete doesn’t actually slice things. 
 —
I’m excited to report that the Cochran Post Office does accept general delivery mail!
 I’m hoping to get letter correspondence going this summer: letter writing is a lost art that I’m wishing to resurrect.  The letters I have from past summers are among my most fondly remembered treasures.  You learn things about those who write to you that you might not learn otherwise.

It’s difficult to explain, but something about seeing the penmanship, the sentence construction, the mistakes, the flow, the paragraph breaks, the length (or lack of) allows you to see into the person writing.  Blogging and typed-words are similar, but there is something much warmer, much more personal about a handwritten letter.  Notebook paper, stationary, postcards, post-its, they are all valuable and treasured.

Plus, you can bundle the letters together for your children or grandchildren to find, and I speak from experience, seeing written correspondences from (and between) your grandparents is one of the neatest things ever.  Looking back through old emails or facebook chat histories doesn’t quite have the same effect.

I think what it comes down to is this: re-reading letters allows you to see chronicles of a developing relationship.  What kinds of questions were asked? How were they answered? What else was discussed? Hopes, dreams, day-to-day-life, future, faith, fears?  It is a story already recorded, already a part of written history.

All of that to say: please write me.   I will write you back, and I will put thought into my responses.  I will keep every letter I receive this summer, bundle them all together, and I bet you they will mean more than these words I write now. 
Here’s how:
  • Write a letter
  • Stamp it
  •  Send it and text me, if you canto let me know something is on the way!

Annaliese Ashley
General Delivery
Cochran GA 31014-9999


5-3-13

I’ve discovered something interesting; when I’m alone, the words flow freely from pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), but when I’m with people, I seem to use up all the words in conversation. 

Now, if you extrapolate that to those writers I hold dear: Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Zane Grey, Louis L’amour, C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Emily Dickinson, Beatrix Potter…you get the picture…it makes me wonder if they too were alone.  Some, Muir and Thoreau for instance, were.  They chose a life, or a year, of solitude to be close to the natural world.  But some, Leopold, Lewis, Tolkien, were pretty cosmopolitan.  How did they do it?  They carried on daily conversations with friends, colleagues, students, families, and still managed to find words left to put to paper.  Did they not say what they wanted to say to people, saving it for paper?  Did they just listen?  Did they really have that much they wanted to share with the world? 

I long to be as eloquent as these men (and women)—but how?  Some of it is a gift, that I do believe.  Some of it is a passion that is cultivated: cultivated by parents, spouses, friends, self.  Some of it is a skill acquired: years and years of editing and failing and erasing and scratching out and redoing and rejection and perseverance.  Some of it is luck: Muir probably wouldn’t have been able to publish a book with his writings, but he instead published one essay at a time in newspapers and magazines.  Those essays were later compiled into books, but not before he’d written to the same periodical for years. 

Only God knows what the future holds for my pen and me.  It is probably better that way.  If I knew about my future I’d get so excited about it that I would forget to live in the present—funny how that works.  For now I’ll just keep letting the words flow.  Maybe these summer months are my time of solitude like Thoreau’s year apart from civilization (mostly).  Maybe not.  Maybe this summer will by my Twiggs, Bleckley, and Houston County Almanac.  Maybe not.  Maybe the bears, snakes, coyotes, rabbits, and mice I meet will be the next Peter Rabbit, Mrs. Tiggywinkle, and childhood heroes.  Maybe not. 

But maybe.  Maybe is enough for me.

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