Fairy Rings

It has been a quarter of a century since my family and I started construction on my dream home. We bought an acreage tucked in a corner of the family farm and determined that our riverside property would be where we enjoyed life as a family and my wife and I would grow old together. After thirty nine years of marriage, my wife is likely to tell you that I’ve grown old, but she might hold reservations about how much we’ve enjoyed some aspects of the journey.

I haven’t given this background to brag about our home or to complain about the challenges we’ve faced in our lives, but rather to give you a sense of how long we’ve dwelt in our home beside the river. Looking back, we had lived here long enough to coax grass to grow in the sand and to start to establish trees beyond the flood plain of the river. I was pretty delighted with our lawn until one day I noticed a series of small circles dotting the back yard. They were a foot or so in diameter, and the vivid green grass was growing much faster than the lawn surrounding it. The upshot was I had to mow frequently to keep the rings from seriously outstripping the rest of the grass.

I puzzled over the phenomenon as each year the circles would grow larger, sometimes intersecting with each other, forming interlocking circles and other strange geometric patterns. It took a few years but I discovered that each year a perfect ring of mushrooms would emerge part way through the season. Thinking back on my childhood, and my reading of Wilson Rawls’ Summer of the Monkeys, I realized I my lawn was overrun with what he called, fairy rings.

Over the years I spent hours searching for information on fairy rings, and every time I came up essentially empty. I was delighted with my direct observations, but I wanted to know more. The years passed and the fairy rings reached as much as thirty to forty feet in diameter. We bought a mulching mower and somewhere along the way we stopped fertilizing the lawn and started relying on the clippings to keep the grass green and growing.

I realized recently that it has been a few years since I’ve seen a fairy ring on our lawn and couldn’t resist the urge to make one more attempt to investigate. I was amazed at the amount of information that has shown up on the internet over the past four or five years. I found pages of information about fairy rings, including fascinating legends going back hundreds of years. Most, unlike Rawls’ story of them granting wishes, were filled with the negative consequences of interacting with a fairy ring.

I read that unlike my experience, some fairy rings actually kill the vegetation where they grow, leaving a dead band around the emerging circle mushrooms. I’m delighted that my fairy rings were of the variety that enlivened the vegetation rather than killing it off. I think it would have been far more difficult to be pleased with a lawn covered with huge yellow circles of dry dead grass than it was to enjoy the vivid green rings.

Moments ago, I took the opportunity to reread Rawls’ commentary, wherein he wrote of searching far and wide for the rare and elusive fairy ring, hoping one day to find another, “step into the center of it, kneel down, and make one wish, for in my heart I believe in the legend of the rare fairy ring.” I’m not a believer that fairy rings grant wishes, but I have to admit I miss seeing them. It’s almost enough to make me start fertilizing again to see if they’ll come back. Then again, probably not. After all, mowing lawn once a week is more than often enough.

Until next time …

Up on the Roof

I managed to put myself into a rather untenable situation this afternoon. After spending most of the day working on clearing some of my porcupine damaged trees, I decided it was time to finally get around to repairing my roof. I should have known better than embarking on such an adventure without any backup, but I am after all a grown man and I should be able to do some things without anyone watching over my shoulder.

I put the extension ladder against the south side of the house, gathered up the tabs that had blown off during the buffeting winds of spring, my caulk gun and a tube of Liquid Nails, and proceeded to climb to the roof. There was yet another late afternoon thunderstorm gathering off to the southwest, but I figured I had enough time to get the tabs matched up and glued down before the rain started. Besides, I’d made certain that I bought the waterproof Liquid Nails so I could use it any time the temperature was warm enough.

Starting on the south side of the roof, I replaced the eight or so tabs that had blown off and glued down a similar number of tabs that had lifted but not torn away from the roof yet. By the time I finished on the north side of the roof, the wind was gusting and a few drops were falling out of the dark overcast. Pushing against the wind, I cleared the ridge. To my surprise, there was no longer a ladder sticking up above the edge of the roof. I checked, and sure enough, the wind had blown the ladder over.

I was in a fix. My wife had left to take supper in for a family who had recently added a new baby. She assured me she would hurry back, but I’ve had some experience with her charitable excursions in the past. I wasn’t hopeful. Worse, I don’t own a cell phone, and our nearest neighbor is beyond yelling range, especially when the wind is howling.

The half hour to an hour I pessimistically expected to wait, turned into an hour and forty minutes. The wind beat upon my house, the rain lashed the roof, lightning flashed, and thunder crashed and rumbled. Where was I, you ask? I sat huddled in the dubious shelter of the lee side of the chimney, and hoped for my wife’s prompt return.

Fortunately the storm was brief, and dumped far less precipitation than we have become accustomed to during this freakishly wet spring. By the time my wife pulled into the driveway, and asked if I was her new roof ornament, I was almost dry.

The moral of the story? When that little voice inside your head says you may not have enough time to get off the roof before the storm arrives, you may want to listen. If you’re not smart enough to do that, at least have a cell phone.

Until next time …