2019-02-08 / Commentary

Winter Chores

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation

On the last Monday in January, I decided to check off a couple of Honey Do list items. Weather had been surprisingly harsh. Not anything like winter Up North, or what my dad experienced as a boy walking those ten uphill, snow-covered miles to school every day, but cold enough to notice.

I left the house, destined only for Lowes and Publix. Nothing drastic, monumental, or requiring survival gear just in case. In retrospect, that might have been a good idea. As it turned out, my day was anything but simple.

The contractors for power line right of way had been out in force for several days. I spent most of my early life climbing telephone poles for a living and clearing right of way is a necessity for companies that want uninterrupted power. Burying everything would achieve the same purpose but that costs more than just cutting tree limbs out of the way when necessary. Utilities gotta have maximum return too.

Some companies take great pride in trying to intelligently trim limbs from magnificent trees that have survived for centuries. Others just hire contractors to do whatever they like. These guys revel in the power of loud power cutting tools and stopping traffic, and sneer at anyone who passes. I had traveled less than two miles when I saw my first roadblock.

The tree butchers were blocking one lane as they cut limbs indiscriminately and let the waste fall on someone’s property, hopefully for later cleanup. There was no one flagging traffic so I held my breath and climbed the hill in the wrong lane.

Two miles down Kennerly Road, I noticed a line of traffic cones stretching down the middle of the road. A flagger was halfway down, near a three-way intersection. Not sure what he was up to, I drove to him and asked where I was supposed to stop. With theatrical contempt, he pointed back to the beginning of the cones and exhaled deeply.

I resisted the urge to ask why he wasn’t standing there instead of a hundred yards down a busy road, but thought better of it and just took the side road, and the long way around, to Lowes. As I closed in on my destination, I encountered a Sheriff’s Deputy blocking that road two blocks from the store.

I drove up and began asking if the other entrance was blocked. She interrupted, explaining impatiently the road was blocked. I told her that was obvious and completed my question. I drove off as she was offering a long, detailed explanation of how to get from where we were to somewhere I didn’t want to go.

After leaving Lowes with charcoal and toilet parts, I drove toward Publix, almost done. While negotiating my turn into the parking lot, I noticed a large truck and more cones. Someone was replacing the Publix sign and that entrance was blocked.

I fully expected to find grocery aisles barricaded but was spared that. I completed my shopping and headed home, promising any available Higher Power that I wouldn’t venture out until spring, unless it was absolutely necessary.

I took the interstate, eyes peeled for outlaw tree trimmers.

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