Farmer’s Calendar for September 2016

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When May and I bought our piece of second-growth forest in 1978, we carved out a clearing for our house, a driveway and parking space, and a leach field. Now the forest is creeping back.

The last time the woods closed in, about 15 years ago, we had a notion of clearing a view of the Wapack Range, 10 miles away, and opening a slot that would allow a lance of sunrise to strike our bedroom window on the spring and fall equinoxes. It would be our private Stonehenge.

Then we realized that such a slot would have to be about a quarter-mile long and require constant trimming to be kept open. That sounded like too much work for the sake of feeling like a Druid two mornings a year. So we settled for pushing back the woods to let in more morning light.

Now it’s time to do it again. But when? Weekends are already too hectic. My wife, who teaches, is in school for 10 to 14 hours every weekday, and I’ve promised not to use the chainsaw solo. Instead, I used our big clippers to take down the smallest saplings at ground level and lop off the tops of bigger ones. What’s left is a strange spectacle: dozens of 4-foot-high sticks with no branches. It looks more like a modern art installation than Stonehenge. All it needs is a catalog.

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