An Unlit Stick Pile 🪵

Back felt well enough yesterday that I attempted to unblock the 2″ PVC line that diverts creek water to the pond. I’d attempted to free the line twice this winter, once failing fairly quickly, and the second time taking extra steps to dig out the spring-fed muck underneath the line’s only bend, then to snake from both ends with 25′ coil line. No magic in the conclusion. It was plugged at the bend, 20′ up line from where it empties into the pond, and 10′ down line from where the creek feeds it. The problem remained, but I pushed a stake in the ground and left it there until yesterday. Yesterday I was over-prepared. I’d gathered a belt of implements Wile E. Coyote would’ve admired. But then I tried again with the plumber’s coil and just kept at it, and for a few minutes the line echoed tink ta-tink, tink ta-tink, tink ta-tink before it broke through.

Not that the pond is ready to be corked and refilled. I still need to power wash the retaining wall and coat it with something I have yet to figure out, possibly Drylock, possibly a more basic masonry slurry. And that also means borrowing (or buying, but preferably borrowing) a power washer. And more research about the trade-offs with drylock versus other coatings. Trial and error. Should it be sealed-sealed? Or just laxly coated so as to hold on for a season? What is the hoped for horizon with such things?

The creek burbles along rocks, pooling in a few places before bending east and tunneling under the driveway. It’s in a zone of the yard I am now more than before thinking of as Wonder Hollow Micropark. One purpose for the park is to enjoy it and to put seating there where others can sit when they visit. Another purpose is to write a grant to get the park’s stewardship funded by an outdoors supporting benefactor. I’d guess it’s only 700 SF, a narrow strip between the steep bank of the road, the other steep bank of the mountain, and at the far end, the thicket of brambles where any day now hummingbird guests will return for summer. They showed up last year on April 10. The Micropark catches morning sunlight but is in the shade by 3 p.m. Getting to it—also getting the push mower to it—requires stepping over the creek, or edging slowly along slopes of 20-30 degrees.

The park has a couple of dead trees next to it. When the winds gust, old branches fall. It’s nothing clockwork, this slow, branch-shedding funeral. Tending to the park means piling sticks for burning, eventually. Yesterday I tried to light the heap of sticks using as a wad of scruffy stems that had remained upright throughout the winter, and they started, but then stalled. Nah. Wasn’t to be. The pile will burn another day.

I carried over a garden rake, and walked the creek, nudging free leaf-clumps, a kind of anti-coagulant pass that would by the end leave the stones showing—juts to the sky—and raise the audibility of water falling, here a couple of inches, there a foot, and then another couple of inches, and so on down. Without the leaves the creek reclaims a seasonal aesthetic more pleasing in spring-summer-early fall. Walking the creek slowly, rake in hand, I noticed two different watercress patches where the watercress is fresh and healthy-seeming, and the water courses through it with a calm adjacency, running, but running quietly and casually in contrast to the higher volume rush. Every bend is unique, but one rock in particular bears such a shallow and constant water course that it is more like a rinsed-over ramp than a part of any of the more active transitions. That one rock suggests itself as a painter, much quieter than a poet, like you could pin a sheet of paper or canvas to the rock with two stones, and let the water’s steady rinse make its marks. Creek as mixed media artist.