A Lunar Eclipse and Retrieving Lumber

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I am working in a nearly deserted library this evening, my last shift of the semester. I won’t return until Jan. 3, the start of a new year. As I have for at least the past 15 years, I marvel how quickly time passes these days and also how events that were only a few months ago seem a distant memory. Time is both compressed and elongated. It seems as if we have lived in this house out in the country forever, but it has been barely four months. And it seems as if just yesterday we watched a new president inaugurated a scant two weeks after an insurrection threatened to overturn the results of the election. That was nearly 11 months ago.

The leaves on the trees just outside the library’s entrance are slow to turn color this year, probably from the lack of rain. Usually by now, they are vibrant through the windows that flow to the ceiling. A dry, warmer than usual winter is predicted. Thus far the prediction holds true. Rain chances pop up on my phone’s weather app, then slowly diminish as the forecasted day draws nearer. We can’t do anything about the weather except talk about it, of course.

A couple of hard freezes have stopped the Bahia grass from growing, so my time spent on the zero-turn mower has ended until likely late February. I unhooked the bushhog from the tractor and installed the box blade. I ordered a set of box blade shanks that should be here soon. Those will allow me to start loosening the soil and working the mulch into it after the giant tree mulcher did its work. Then I can plant ryegrass for now, Bermudagrass in the spring.


Early last Friday morning, I woke up unbidden at exactly 3 a.m. The lunar eclipse is at its peak, I thought, quickly dressed and headed outside. I stood in the driveway to block the light from our only neighbor’s front and back porches, since they insist on leaving them on 24-7. That’s their business, though it seems a waste of money.

My timing was accidentally perfect. The eclipse was full, save for a tiny crescent sliver. The moon glowed a pastel red directly overhead, allowing the stars in that country setting to shine as bright as I have ever seen in East Texas. I stood out in the driveway for about 15 minutes, reveling in the sight, the majesty of that night sky and the blood-red moon, not minding the cold at all. I went back inside and immediately fell back asleep.


I headed to my brother-in-law Jim’s place last Saturday afternoon to finally retrieve my cache of black walnut and red-oak lumber that has been stored under a box trailer for the past five years. Time flies. Termites did some damage on a few pieces, which is inevitable. I will spend some time cleaning off the dirt dauber nests and such before sticking the lumber in the shop. The lumber is all rough-cut and filled the bed of Big Red, our 1965 Ford F100 beast. In coming weeks, I’ll fire up the planer to get some lumber ready for the next woodworking project, a barrister’s bookcase. I will try to do this when the neighbors are at work, since it makes quite a racket.

Mollie’s toy box is finished and in the house. It is safe to say that Maltese pup has the fanciest toy box in East Texas, made out of black walnut, carefully sanded, stained and varnished.


I have much to be thankful for this holiday season, as always: family, friends, a chance to live out our dream of owning land and acquiring critters, better health than I probably deserve, and a still-inquisitive mind. As my frayed, 20-year-old long-sleeved T-shirt proclaims, “Life is Good.”

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