Thursday, February 11, 2016

he Square Peg - The Great Spring Expedition

The Square Peg - The Great Spring Expedition
© S. Bradley Stoner

I woke up this morning to bright sunshine, warm temperatures and singing birds. Yep, it’s turning spring in Texas. Not that this is a big deal... it’s been spring-like for most of the winter. I mean, we’ve had maybe two freezes, albeit short lived, since last October. So, it isn’t the weather per se... maybe it’s the inclination of the sun. That does it for the birds, so why
not me?

Anyway, it was time to plan my springtime expedition. This IS a big deal. It takes days of planning to get it right. First, I’ve got to clean out the Explorer. That’s not such a big deal since I’m not a teenager or twenty-something, so I don’t use my vehicle as a dumpster. Still, there’s vacuuming to be done... you can’t go on an expedition with the winters grit floating about, now can you? Then there’s the matter of seats. When they are up in the sitting position, you can’t load everything you need to. And I need to. My Explorer doubles as a pickup truck... almost. It has a headroom restriction you don’t encounter with a truck.

Then there’s that list of items. This requires me to inventory my stuff. Inside and out. I don’t want to miss anything and get caught up short. Startng out and then going back is not an option. This is a one shot deal. Once I have completed my inventory, it’s time to compile the list of stuff I need to purchase. Then all of that Internet research to find the best deal and the closest stores. Frankly, I don’t want to travel a lot in the procurement phase. In fact, the less travel, the better. Time is money... and so is gas, even though it is comparatively cheap right now.

When I finished taking inventory and writing out the list, an hour and a half had been shot to hell. The Internet killed another two hours. It became clear that I would have to reschedule my departure time. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were booked. Monday it is. I decided to do the prep work on the old Explorer. So, I pulled it up into the driveway, emptied the winter accumulation of sawdust and leaves from my shop vac, and prepared to do battle with the dust and grit in my trusty steed.

I’d just finished banging out the shop vac filter and was reassembling the contraption when Bob walked up. Once again, I had no place to hide. Damn! “What’s up Bob?”

“Goin’ on a trip?” he asked.

Now normally I only tell a couple of my neighbors when I plan on being away from home, and Bob isn’t one of them. No telling who he’ll blab to when he’s swilling beer or Jack... or both. “Just doing a little spring cleaning,” I replied.

“Geez, it isn’t even spring yet.”

“Could have fooled me,” I shot back. “It’s fricking 72 degrees and the sun’s shining. To me that’s spring. It’s got my itchy mood going. Time to be out in nature, even if it is just sucking the grime out of the old Explorer.”

“Not me... I’ve got almost two months to hibernate yet.”

“Well, I suppose... after all football is over until August... Yea Broncos.” I just had to poke the bear.

“Screw you. Besides, I’ve moved on. So, where are ya goin?” Bob thought he was being sneaky, slipping that in. I let him know he was about as subtle as an M-1A1 tank. That just made him belligerent. “Well, at least you can tell me when you are going.”

I made a mental note to make sure I didn’t leave any of my tools in the potting shed or on the back porch for him to borrow. “Like I said, I’m just doing a bit of spring cleaning.”

Bob gave up, shrugged and mumbled, “See ya later,” then ambled back home.

I had to wait until he’d finished ambling to put the seats down and take out my tape measure to double check the cubic footage available. That gave me the cargo capacity. I finished up, parked the Explorer back in front of the house, and went inside to review my list. You see, going to Home Depot in the spring is an expedition... and it requires careful planning. I mean, you just have to know how many bags of mulch, weed and feed, and concrete you can reasonably fit in before you go. Oh, and you have to know where to stash the liquid weed killer and cans of spar varnish so you don’t wind up with wet weed and feed or crushed cans and bottles. Frankly, there are some smells I just don’t want inside my Explorer.

I like the Home Depot... in fact, as I’ve noted before, I could cheerfully spend the better part of a day in there... except when I’m on a mission. And this was a mission. I had to get the logistics right before I engaged in battle with a runaway landscape. The great thing about Texas is that things grow. It’s also the worst thing about Texas. Pruning and weed killing are threatening to eat into my fishing time if I don’t get a handle on the runaway growth first. You have to have a strategy, a good set of tools, and a tactical approach for each season. Springtime is launch time for the main assault. If you blow that, you’ll be fighting it all year. I’m getting too old for that crap... besides, I’d rather be fishing. So, it’s D-Day minus 3... Hope the Depot’s big carts are greased up and ready to go. And... If I'm really lucky, I'll get back before my sweetie knows I went.