Here come the machines.
Marc hurried into the house to tell me there were people marking our trees. “Here we go again,” I thought to myself. Time to plead with the power company not to cut a 30-foot path through our woods. In the past, my pleading had always worked, but this time I was worried. I had run out of reasons to make them stop. They did have the right to clear everything on 15 feet on either side of our power line. Ground to sky. Our driveway winds about 100 yards through the woods but the power lines made a straight shot from the road to the house. So there would go our privacy and the beautiful woods we had taken such care of.
The young man in charge was very polite but on a mission. “We would like to have the line buried,” I told him. His skeptical look said that he had heard that one before. It’s an expensive proposition and not something a lot of folks would do. But this is our home. The family home, if you will, and we hope the place will continue on in the family. So it was worth any expense to keep our home in the woods, in the woods. I’m sure most everybody who lives in the country has seen the mess of hacked down trees and bush that follow such a clearing. And they probably understand why we would do whatever it took to keep that from happening to our place.
The project is set.
After some discussion with the fellows from the power company, it was time to start. They would have to clear about 75 feet into our woods to place a poll. From there the line would be buried under the driveway up to the house. That still meant we would have a mess to deal with but our woods were safe and that’s what counted.
Once the power line guys understood how important it was to us they took great care. They removed and trimmed only what was necessary. The contractor who dug the trench in which the line would go was equally careful and before long we had power to the house and no 30 ft wide clearing down to the road.
We did have quite a mess where they had cleared for the one pole. But, in the heat of the summer, Marc managed to haul off logs, burn the branches, and generally clean up the area where they had to clear. I, on the other hand, was working on a new path. We don’t have a yard as such. Instead, we have some clearings connected by paths all of which are covered in moss.
So with a new clearing down by the road what was I to do but start another path from the house. The moss would take care of itself. Just keep the leaves blown off and it magically appears.
The new clearing itself was another matter. While it was quite a way down and, while not visible from the house, it was still a bald spot that was going to grow up in something next spring. Probably noxious weeds. There was a lot of discussion on what we should do with it. Marc previously had a lot of luck with raspberries and that sounded good. And the chiggers do need a place to live. I thought about a food plot for wildlife. There is a small creek that runs through the woods and goes under the road just to the west of the new clearing. The critters travel the creek daily and I thought they might like a restaurant or food truck next to the creek before making the trip across the road. A dead-end dirt road but a road nonetheless.
Ranger to the rescue
All it took was a couple of telephone calls and an email to secure some assistance from the Missouri Department of Conservation. I wanted to make sure I was planting something that would improve the place, not hurt it. Right off the bat, my food truck idea was deemed unnecessary. I was told the critters that use our creek had plenty to eat. Raspberries, on the other hand, seemed to be a good idea. And we were introduced to a need we were unfamiliar with. Something for the “pollinators.” Bugs, bees, and butterflies.
A wildflower butterfly garden. My mind raced back to San Francisco in the 1960s and I thought how popular I would have been with “Moonbeam,” “Sunshine,” and the other ladies if I had told them I had a butterfly garden. But that’s a story for another time.
We agreed with the Conservation Department and decided on wildflowers interspersed with a few raspberry bushes. A new plan for the new clearing at the end of the new path. We were sent a packet of information on what wildflowers could be planted and what would be the best for the pollinators. They even included a brochure on what we could plant to help everybody’s favorite, the Monarch Butterfly.
So, as we look to next spring and reflect on this past, we can see how a possible disaster was avoided and a whole new project lay before us. A butterfly garden connected to the house by a new, moss-covered path. For that, I would like to thank Intercounty Electric and the Missouri Department of Conservation for helping protect our wilderness home and giving us something new to enjoy.
Awwww, my heart is touched that you took such care. We participated in No -Mow May this last summer to give the bees and butterflies plenty of wild prairie to roam, and it was a beautiful sight! When it was time to mow in midsummer we got 15 round bales of hay for the neighbor’s cattle.
John W. Luther
Great story, Tom! I am so very glad that you were able to save your exquisite woods. I love your place.