photo by Sheri Dixon

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Are You Sure the Dinosaurs Are Extinct At Night?

So there's this gate.

It's rusted and old, yet heavy as all get out and not warped, cracked or weak.

It was the gate the "For Sale" sign was attached to when I first saw the land we now call Home.

A full 16 ft long, it's not aluminum, but solid iron. Even attached to the tree-like post with hinge pins wider than my thumb, it would work itself loose by turning the hinge pins via sheer weight as it was opened and closed. At that point it would thunk to the ground as I was closing or opening it, jarring my shoulder almost out of its socket as well.

When we built the house, the gate had to come down and the opening in the fence widened to make way for the cement trucks and the log trucks. It was gently set aside for later.

Over on the barn side of the property, there was no gate- just a "cheater gate" made of barbed wire stretched across the opening. When we built the barn, we installed a brand new aluminum gate. It's light and shiny, and swings effortlessly and straight as an arrow.

When it was time to re-install a gate over on the house side, Joe offered to do it and he and the rest of my family begged me, implored me, wheedled and cajoled me to please, please, PLEASE, PLEASE put a twin to the barn gate up on the house side.

Absolutely not.

That gate is part of the farm's history- I'd no more discard that gate than burn down the 80 year old barn that's part wood, part sheet metal, perched on some cement blocks and some big rocks that somehow manages with slatted walls and colander-like roof to keep everything inside it dry. Even Edna holds a grudging respect for the old barn now. Mostly.

So Joe set to hanging the gate.

We set it in from the road so we can pull off to open it- the road is just over one lane wide and although a pretty straight stretch is to one side, the other side curves pretty sharp- it wouldn't take much of a bump from another vehicle to topple us into the creek...and there's a creek on both sides of the road.

There were old railroad ties left next to the old barn and he used one on each side as gate posts. So far, so good.

Because of the weight of the gate, I recommended a wheel be attached to the bottom to help hold it up and not let it pull the hinge pins over, like before.

So he got the wheel.

And found out that they don't MAKE wheels for heavy, square-cut gates. Only light tubular aluminum ones.

Yanno what? You really CAN'T fit a round thing onto a square thing very well.

The gate dragged because the wheel wouldn't turn correctly.

The worst spot was right in the center of the dirt drive where there was a giant root sticking up a few inches- the gate would have to be pulled (cha-CHUNK) over the root.

Blowing the root out of the ground was not a viable solution. Which gave Joe a sad.

Eventually the wheel was removed because it didn't work worth a damn and the gate hung pretty well all on its own. But then it REALLY dragged on the ground when opened and closed just from the weight and width of it and it would now have to be LIFTED over the root.

Finally, Joe pulled the entire shebang off and re-hung the gate...almost a foot higher than before. The gate swung free of the root at last.

I work till 9pm, making me the last one in the gate at night, so I'm out there fall, winter and early spring in the dark closing the gate.

I'd pull the gate shut, chain it and turn back to the car...tripping over the root. Every. Single. Time. Even with a flashlight.

I started calling it the Root of All Evil.

I'm not afraid of the dark. Really I'm not.

There's about 1,500 ft from our gate to our closest neighbor to the east...then another quarter mile in to his house. There's about 3,000 ft. to our closest neighbor to the west...then another quarter mile in to THEIR house.

Across the road from us is over 400 acres of bottomland and forest.

During the day, it's glorious. At night, it's still glorious except when the compies are out.

Remember in Jurassic Park? That guy with the glasses who ended up getting eaten by the cute little dinosaurs in the creek? I swear something at night (not frogs) sometimes makes the cute little noise those comprasauruses (0r whatever the hell they were) made.

Matters not that there's no way we even know what those little things sounded like. That's what they sounded like in the movie and that's the noise I hear at night sometimes and it freaks me the hell out. Because OUR house is over 1,000 ft from the gate.

Which makes it eminently easy to forget and trip over the Root of All Evil.

Most of the time now I'm able to close the gate with dignity, say "Hiya, Root" as I step OVER the Root of All Evil, and calmly get back into my car.

So Nature decided to up her game.

Monday night I got out of the car to close the gate, swung the gate closed, and almost tripped over...

...the ugliest possum I've ever seen.

And that's saying a lot.

On accounta they're absofuckinglutely the ugliest creatures on earth. And I think they know it. And don't care.

So he just looked at me, balefully, and kept walking. Never even tried to avoid me or acknowledge my clearly superior ranking on the food chain.

I hope the compies eat him.

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