Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
People told me that leaving Aspen would change me. I didn’t believe them. I mean, sure, I’m moving away from a community I’ve lived in for the past 20 years, and to a substantially more rural setting, but things don’t have to change that much, right?
Well, it’s been just about a year since I made that move, and things – all things – have changed radically. When I look at what life was like one year ago compared with what I was doing just last week, well…shocking.
Last week: I used a chain saw, jigsaw, circular saw, table saw, sledgehammer, pliers, chisel, compressor, nail gun, impact driver, hammer drill and various screwdrivers.
Last year: I used one of those gum stimulators. The nonelectric kind. Much safer.
Last week: I moved our chickens, chickens we raised from barely post-egg age, into their new coop. I know that chickens eat table scraps and weeds and stuff, but I’m not sure which and what kind. So about five times I day I’m Googling “Can chickens eat…?” (Avocados, no. Bananas, yes.) I even went so far as to click on a video of a woman feeding various foods to her chickens. I watched it in its entirety. From there, I sauntered over to a YouTube video of two guys proudly demonstrating their invention – an automatic, sunrise/sunset-activated chicken door. For me, the Internet is basically just a place to learn about chickens.
Last year: Facebook and porn.
Last week: I sold the old refrigerator that was in my house – a 1960s GE, the kind that has the latching door that traps kids inside of it. I used the money to buy a bale of straw and two bags of tree mulch.
Last year: I sold a copy of one of my poetry books, “Ode to Mustard.” I used the money to buy part of an order of french fries.
Last week: Mulberries. I picked Mulberries. Enough for two whole pies!
Last year: Dingleberries.
Last week: Installed my second swarm of bees into their awaiting new hive (a hive that I built!) in my backyard. I’d fashioned a makeshift beekeeper’s hat out of an old straw hat and a leftover screen door, just to keep the bees from stinging me in the face. Again, it turns out it wasn’t even necessary, as the move to their new living quarters went incredibly gracefully. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this.
Last year: A bee flew into my house, so I captured it in a glass and let it go outside. But in retrospect it may have been a wasp. Hard to tell.
Last week: Out of bed every day at 5:30 a.m.
Last year: 5:30 p.m.
Last week: Our chickens aren’t old enough to lay eggs yet. But my neighbor’s are. So for now, we get our eggs from her. She also has lots of cool tools that I don’t have and says I can borrow them any time I want.
Last year: My neighbor was only in town for Christmas. While there, neither he nor his family would acknowledge my existence, even though our front doors were about 10 feet apart. Had I asked him to borrow an egg, I most likely would’ve been directed to one of their staff, who would have then called the police.
Last week: I went to my local lumberyard/hardware store to get some 1-inch pine for a project I’m going to be doing soon. I drove my pickup into the yard, selected and loaded the lumber myself, strapped it down, flagged it and went inside to pay. The cashier greeted me by name and charged the purchase to my account.
Last year: Me: “I need one of those things that you, you know, that you use when there’s the thing, the thing that spins, that’s shaped kinda like a stop sign, that you need to take off. You know the thing I mean?”
Cashier: “A wrench?”
Me: “Yeah, that’s it! Do you have those, or is that a special order?”
Last week: I planted an apple, cherry and maple tree in my backyard. We amended the hand-dug dirt with compost and my neighbor’s homemade potting soil. I’ve since been watering diligently, due to lack of rain, and I’m getting ready to install a slow-drip irrigation system.
Last year: After I finished eating a peach, I threw the pit out of the window. The car window. While driving on the highway.
(Next time: More tales from Barry’s own private Green Acres.)
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