I put away the snow shovel on Friday.
I have experienced snow in April, even in May. I do not recall month-of-May blizzards that would have warranted the use of the snow blower.
The shovel, however ... I am wary of Mother. A broom also resides on the front porch. Usually, its strands allow me to whisk away stray snowflakes that land on the porch.
But I kept the shovel handy nonetheless.
I am a practitioner of the adage, “If you prepare for it, it will not happen.”
Call it superstition. Call it hard-won wisdom of having lived for seven decades. I regularly prepare for the kinds of non-events I would prefer to avoid.
Our pond, for example, has an ingenious device that allows us to adjust its level by up to six feet. The thing looks like a chimney that has been sunk into the front wall of the pond, sitting atop a drain tube. The “chimney” is split into two chambers by slotted receptacles that can accept plates.
Water from the pond enters the bottom chamber, six feet below the highest desirable level of the pond. Water seeks its own level. If I put in one slotted plate, the water in the entire pond will rise by six inches before it overtops the plate and flows away. If all 12 plates are in place, the inflow backs up for six feet in the inner chamber before gurgling over the topmost plate and down to the unblocked discharge pipe.
But all 12 plates are never in place, much to my wife’s annoyance.
I keep the topmost plate up, which leaves the pond six inches below that theoretical highest desirable level.
I am preparing for a storm.
Yes, the pond has a grass-covered emergency spillway to route high water away from the top of the dam into a nearby meadow and stream, without overtopping the spillway, where erosion or a break in the dam could occur. So the pond’s actual highest desirable level is a good foot below the top of the dam.
I add another six inches for good measure, using the pond control device.
My wife sees no sense in this. If everything was figured out correctly when the pond was built, she reasons, putting all 12 plates into the pond control device will still leave the water below the lip of that emergency spillway, safely away from a too-full pond.
But that one plate remains above the other 11 six-inch plates, for the same reason that the snow shovel leans against the front porch wall until well into May.
Another example: Two five-gallon plastic containers easily supply a few weeks’ worth of gasoline for our lawn mowers.
I have three containers. You never know when the power will go out and I’ll need another supply of gasoline to run the portable generator.
On our driveway is more than 10 tons of 1B limestone gravel, atop a 2B base that is several inches thick.
Yet beside the barn, there is a pile of more 1B gravel. It started out as three tons’ worth, not all that much since it doesn’t take a lot of gravel to weigh a ton. It is now down to about two tons’ worth. When it gets to one ton, I’ll bring another three tons home.
Why? Never know when we’ll need limestone.
Ditto for the four-foot-high pile of topsoil that looms like a prehistoric cairn in the meadow below the front of the dam. I had the pond excavator leave that pile. Each year, I weed-whack it to give me access. It used to be five feet high. Weather and a few hauled away wheelbarrow loads have shrunk it, but I keep it handy. Never know when we’ll need some good dirt.
Inside the lower barn are stacks of old lumber, a few rough-cut 2x4s near old barn siding worn paper-thin by the elements. Hey, I might need to patch something.
Screws, nuts and bolts? I have them in filled-up old coffee cans. Nails? Ditto.
I haven’t used tire chains for 30 years. Modern chains slip onto tires with far less work than had been required for the old all-metal linked sets. It could be that the chains hanging in our basement won’t even fit the wheels of our cars or truck. But, hey, I could lay them flat enough to give a vehicle a running start up our iced-over driveway, so they stay.
“Be Prepared,” said the Boy Scout field manual way back in the 1950s.
That explains the extra sets of mower blades gathering rust on a barn shelf. Hey, a blade could break or become bent. It also explains the old single-shot shotgun and a handful of shells that are secreted in the lower barn near the chicken house. Most of the chicken varmints are of the weasel, raccoon or possum variety, easily enough scared off by the dogs.
But one never knows when a bear will show up, so....
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Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: email@example.com