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Yesterday, a gust of wind hit the apple tree, filling the air with a flurry of white petals. It was a simultaneously beautiful and chilling sight. Beautiful because the petals were incandescent in the sunlight and fluttered to rest upon rich, green grass; chilling because implicit in the vision was a message that already the blossoms were breaking up and before you know it, we’ll be pressing cider in anticipation of having something hot to drink after shoveling the mailbox free of real flurries.

Sometimes a guy gets a little ahead of himself.

To bring myself back to earth and diffuse the sense of speeding time, I headed down to the pole barn, where the implacable passage of days has once again clustered up the need for a thorough cleaning and probably a Dumpster.

As long-time readers know, this isn’t my first Dumpster purge. I have also previously written of the electromagnetic nature of pole barns, how they draw objects of all sorts — ferrous and otherwise — to their center. You excavate, they re-accumulate.

But this time is different. Or so I silently swear. It’s the same old dusty game of sort and toss, but lately I’m leaning heavily to toss. I’m at that age where I realize the percentage of things I’ve saved for a rainy day likely outnumber my remaining rainy days.

There is also the irony of having just left the house after informing a child nothing fun will happen until she cleans her room only to be confronted by an entire building’s worth of your own mess. And while it might be a piquant means of revenge, I cringe to think of my kids having to metaphorically pick up my room while literally sorting this hoard-o-rama for the auction.

In short, I gotta get rid of a buncha stuff.

I put in a good couple of hours. Sorted out scrap metal, filled a box with recyclable wiring and electronics, chopped my “miscellaneous boards” pile into kindling. Sorted out plastics, refurbed a couple of old gas cans (“refurbed” being code for “Take that, non-spill nozzle!”), and threw all irredeemable materials into the Dumpster pile.

And — this is the critical part — time after time, I took a look at an object, enjoyed a memory or two, maybe snapped a photo with my phone, then dropped it into its proper category under the main heading: GOTTA GO.

When I signed off for the day and headed across the yard to help my wife in the garden, I still had a long ways to go. There remains a lot of Dumpster crud to get through. If only a breeze would blow the pole barn clean as easily as it stripped those snowy white petals.

That said, despite the wind, a thick fluff of blossoms still festoons the apple tree. Before I started the tiller, I did — literally and in fact — stop to smell them. I do this knowing no season should be taken for granted. And should I be granted life and time to see these miniature blooms return, I pray the Dumpster will not do the same.

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An original “Roughneck Grace” column exclusive to the Wisconsin State Journal. Audio versions may air on “Tent Show Radio”(tentshowradio.com). Read more from Michael Perry at www.sneezingcow.com.

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