Holy crap. Lest you think living on a lake is all fun and games, you are mostly right; but when it’s not, it really makes us suffer.
Backstory: two winters ago, we had 11 inches of wet snow fall in a single day. The trees on the west side of our property took it well except for a few, which collapsed under the weight of the snow and fell over the short cliff and dangled helplessly with their roots still stuck fast in the forest.
Then last winter, on Christmas day, we got 9 inches of rain in 18 hours and another 5 in the next 24 hours. Our giant lake rose from winter pool (500 ft. above sea level) to five feet above full pool – 515 feet. In two days. The wash from the creeks that feed the lake was tremendous… there was white water on most of them until they reached the wider parts of the lake, washing trees, limbs, trash, silt, and quite a few docks/boats with it.
The lake receded, the silt settled out, and the water became clear and clean again.
But where, you ask, did all the trees, limbs, and trash go?
And what, you ask, became of our fallen tree comrades who were like giant hanging plants on the west cliffside?
They died. And turned grey and ugly, like giant wooden spider webs with half formed pine cones all over them like big ugly leeches.
We bought this house partly because it faces some nice big water, but is, itself, tucked into a ‘corner’ so our only neighbors on the west side are trees and rocks.
Nice for privacy but that also makes it our responsibility.
Fine. What. Ever.
We bought a hand saw specifically to take into the lake to get wet and I donned my water shoes, boarded a pool noodle for buoyancy, and we set out for the Shoreline of Dead Trees.
Ted manned the row boat while I sawed limbs off the trees from the water. We manhandled the branches (and 8 million attached pine cones) into the boat and then Ted would row them to the slough (whence all the trash from the winter storm collected) and chuck them overboard onto dry land while I held the boat steady against the shore.
For the record, all the dangly trees were in 10-20 feet of water, and the ‘shore’ in the slough is quicksand mixed with a thousand little waterlogged sticks, all of which smells like dead tennis shoes when you try to stand on it and break the surface tension of the sand. Add to this a few dozen sharp, ottoman sized rocks, just to make the footing unpredictable, and you can imagine the fun starting to happen.
After 4 and 1/2 hours, we had all the dangly trees shaved down to their main trunks and our shoreline looked pretty darn tidy, except for the bigger branches which I had cleverly arranged into a raft and pushed toward the shore at the slough for the next day’s task.
Cut to the next day.
We are lying in bed, cataloguing our cuts, scrapes, bruises and general aches, when Ted says:
“We need to get started… it’s not going to get any cooler out there and we are still beat from yesterday.”
So he dons jeans, hat, rubber boots, and work gloves. I don bathing suit, water shoes, work gloves and bucket hat. We slip and slide our way off the nice grassy part of our yard into the tangled hillside on the edge of our yard where the hill is steep and the thorny vines play.
We take all the branches and limbs from yesterday and throw them onto a giant tarp and then haul them up the hillside, falling and tripping all the way.
At some point before we are finished, I declare amnesty on Leanne’s portion of the non-water labor and trip and slide my way down the slough into the stinky, sandy, tiny sticked, random rock water where I try walking out to the deep portion (about five feet off shore) and basically just face plant into enough water to swim away and cool off a little.
Then I begin to prune the bigger branches off the ‘raft’ from yesterday and pile them up on top, ending up with two rafts. Then I brave the silty, odiferous water to tie our water rope around the major sections of the raft and push from my precarious shoreline as Ted pulls from the hillside full of tripping hazards.
We almost died.
Repeat with second raft.
Almost die again.
Then all we had to do was take the dozen or so large logs (and I’m talking quarter length telephone poles) out of the water and move them far enough up the hill to keep them from re-entering the water where they become navigation hazards to boaters.
All this only took us 3 hours, today.
While my Sweet Baboo took the pruners, saw, rope and tarp back up the hill onto the lawn and thence to the garage, I face planted one last time into the waters of the slough and then floated/paddled over to the dock with my water shoes, shorts, hat and gloves on my stomach.
Ted joined me in the water some time after I flung my accessories onto the dock and we floated, soaked and catalogued our new scratches and bruises.
Then we contemplated the ladder out of the water, wondering if we could muster the strength to actually use it.
Tomorrow, we are going to the movies, which takes approximately no strength.