Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Week 2: The Journey of 1000 Miles

Our driveway
Although we certainly cannot be considered advocates of communism, we have to admit that Mao was right: the longest journey does begin with one step. It then continues with many more.

On our second trip to Twin Ponds we had already arranged to meet with its former owner - a gentleman named Peter. We had been notified the week after closing that he had been diagnosed with cancer and was starting chemo treatments. Accordingly, we had decided to say nothing about his belongings still being in the cabin and elsewhere on the property until we knew exactly what was going to happen. Given his condition, it's particularly extraordinary that he took the time to pay us a visit.

A slight digression is necessary here. On our way up north on Saturday morning we stopped at the Home Depot in Guelph and sought out a few tools and other items, not the least of which was a power sander which we wanted for the adirondack chairs since they really needed to be spruced up (they're made out of pine). More on the sanding later.

We were also shopping for a chainsaw and chainsaw accessories. This was no small event. Spencer had made it known to Sim that for as long as he could remember he'd always wanted a reason to have a chainsaw. So, knowing we intended to buy one (we'd previously seen some at Canadian Tire but had decided to wait) Sim had done sufficient consumer research to help us decide on the make and model. Luckily for us Home Depot had our target model in stock and we took no time in pulling the last one they had out from under a shelf (and it is noteworthy that to get it we had to cut across a store-long line of people waiting, all of whom were purchasing toilets on special for $39 - never seen anything like it).

Now some of you who know Spencer are probably saying to yourselves, "Spencer and a chainsaw. Not a great combination." All we can say is we'll see. We'll see.

So what has that got to do with Peter? Well, Spencer was busily trying to assemble the chainsaw (remember, it was his first, so he was being gentle/careful) when Peter and his companion Carol arrived. Sim was at the ponds at that moment so Spencer left his task to go greet them and called Sim over. Peter excused himself for not being able to speak very well due to his cancer, but he needn't have bothered. He was kind and polite and we were eagerly awaiting the morsels of background on Twin Ponds without any concern about the quality of his voice, so long as we could understand him.

Out standing in his field
Peter was a sweetheart. It quickly became clear from talking with him that he loved Twin Ponds (which, in case it isn't clear, is the moniker we chose) and the surroundings. He had plenty of tidbits of advice for us as well. The most interesting was his austere warning to always remember that although we might be owners in the community, we "would never be one of them."

He told us about the various wildlife on the property and that we could expect to see wild turkeys, coyotes, bears, white-tailed deer, beavers, muskrats, grouse, and especially rabbits. We learned of the conservation plan affecting the property and that it was actually good for the forest to cut down trees intermittently. Also, in Field of Dreams fashion Carol imparted to Sim some advice about tending the fish: if you feed them, they will come.

One thing which dismayed us was the vandalism that Peter described. He showed us how vandals had broken some of the front window panes and had kicked in (and split) the front door. Hunters had also shot holes in his paddle boat. We thus decided that we would take measures to minimize such wanton destruction - a subject on which we will have some discourse in due course.

Be that as it may, it was a very pleasant visit. Peter promised to have his forces remove his decades of collected miscellany, except of course the bed and the adirondack chairs. There were some parting pleasantries, among which was Peter's kind words of gratitude for buying the property "for the right reasons." He and Carol had disclosed how they had had many family activities at Twin Ponds and wished us many happy memories too. They drove away slowly down the lane, almost as if they were asking themselves whether this would be the last time they would see the place, and then were gone.

Sim had intended to work on the sanding, but alas there was no electricity (more on that in another post perhaps), so her plans were foiled. Meanwhile Spencer returned to his chainsaw. Seeing as how he had assembled it just prior to Peter and Carol's arrival, the only thing left to be done was to fill it with 2-stroke gas/oil mix, don protective eyewear and earmuffs and let 'er rip, which is exactly what he did.

Once again, for those of you who know Spencer, you're probably asking yourselves (and if you're not, you should be), "What can go wrong?" To most of you the answer would seem obvious: he's going to maim himself or cut off his {insert name of body part here}. Well, nothing quite that dramatic happened. Instead, while triumphantly wielding the chainsaw in true "watch me conquer the world" fashion for Sim to see...

...the chain fell off...

and Spencer was standing there holding a chainless chainsaw against a dead tree limb watching it bounce back and forth as uselessly as a screen door on a submarine.

Thinking about sanding while watching the chainsaw show
After assessing the problem and determining its cause it became clear that the chainguard had not been properly secured. You see, that was what Spencer had been in the process of doing when Peter and Carol had arrived. And that was what Spencer had forgotten he'd been doing by the time Peter and Carol left.

Several minutes later (after having successfully become intimate friends with the forest floor while scouring it for a missing bolt), the chain was back on and ready for action. Spencer once again wields the chainsaw, brings it down against the tree limb, and desperately holds on to the chainsaw when it bounces off. Again.

In his frustration Spencer had installed the chain assembly upside down, which meant that the chain was backwards and was once again as useful as a bandaid on a corpse. Luckily, the situation was remedied quickly and after only a few more minutes there were copious amounts of sweat, cut lumber, and sawdust everywhere. How glorious it was (finally)!

No doubt much more could be said (including how Spencer ignored Sim's advice about what to do with the tree clippings and then paid the price), but you probably get the picture.

After watching the fish for a while and (Spencer) taking a quick dip in the river to clean off the sawdust and sweat, we packed up our stuff and, feeling rather accomplished, headed back to the Big Smoke for yet another week. We shouldn't fail to mention, however, that on the way back to the cabin from the river we stopped to see the fish in Pond Superior. It was then that Spencer suffered his injury. Walking towards the pond he jammed his right shin into a tree root sticking out of the ground. Congratulations - you can wield a chainsaw but you can't walk. Time to go home.

Take that, Mao. Two steps forward, and only one step back. Ha!


  1. Great narrative, you guys! I loved reading about Spencer's duel with the chainsaw... remind me never to be around you guys when power tools are involved (though by the end of this I'm sure you'll be pros!)! ;)

  2. Don't count on it! You may want to keep your distance ;)

  3. I'm still bitter about the stupid root hitting my shin. Luckily not too much blood ran down my leg. :/