Saturday, May 31, 2008

First day working on the kayak

Today started out sunny but quickly clouded over and by mid-morning there were sporadic showers. I was up early and since the forecast said rain later in the day I wanted to get in enough kindling to last a few days as the rain is staying for awhile I think.

Mike and I met on the road to the Garden House and he showed me where he wanted to put in a pond and where Terry and Katimavik had started a solar house in the woods back in the '80s. Terry had this idea to use earth concrete but it did not work out well, it all crumbled. They put a regular concrete wall on top of the earth concrete and when the earth concrete crumbled, parts of the concrete wall collapsed. You can still see the out roughly circular outline of the house though.

Our first task at the Garden House was to clean it up. While Mike tacked the electric wiring back onto the walls I swept and vacuumed. We mounted the kayak hull upright on two sawhorses and cleared the large table it had been sitting on as a work area. Mike made a list of all the things that were missing or needed.

We broke for a brief lunch and then drove over to Peter's place to check his barn for the missing and needed parts, a centre frame for the kayak hull, some wood flour (sawdust from a belt sander) and a drill (borrowed).

Back at the Garden House we inserted the centre frame piece into the kayak hull, now lying upright on the sawhorses. There were glue marks where it was supposed to be, Mike doesn't remember why it was removed. We wrapped 4 pieces of string around the hull, two on either side of the centre frame, and tied a knot in each string. Using two sticks of wood inserted between each pair of strings, we twisted each pair of strings together to pull the hull sides tight against the centre frame ends. When the hull was tightened snug against the frame we glued the frame onto the hull using a glue gun and craft glue. When the glue had cooled and hardened we removed the strings.

Then we laid the two centre deck panels out on top of each other on the table, so that the outer deck sides were inside facing each other and all the edges were lined up. I drilled tiny holes every six inches and about a quarter of an inch from the edge all along the centre seam side of both panels. Then more holes lined up with the first set along the outer edges of the deck panels. We then laid the two panels out as they would be on the deck, with the centre seam sides lined up and touching. We inserted small wires, about 3" long, into each pair of holes and gave them a single twist to hold. Well, Mike did, I however neglected the single twist part and when we went to lift the two wired panels onto the hull, all the wires on my side went flying. We had to put it back on the table and rewire my side, this time twisting the wires to stay put.

By this time Ruth had arrived with Mike and Ruth's son Eirin, who helped us put the centre deck panels in place on the hull. Then we laid the side strips out along the outer edges of the centre panels and Mike drilled two holes in each side strip on either side of its middle seam (all of the panels and strips making up the kayak are in two pieces epoxied together at the ends, so that there is a seam running around the hull and deck in the middle of the kayak), lined up with the two holes drilled on either side of the middle seam of the deck panels. We wired those holes, joining the side strips to the centre deck panels at the middle on either side of the kayak. We laid the strips out along the edges of the deck panels so that you could see how the kayak was going to look when it was finished. At this point it was windy and cold and wet and time to quit for day. We closed up the Garden House and went back to our respective houses in the woods.

Later I came by Mike's house to pick up a frozen gel pack from their freezer and Mike was out looking at his garden so we chatted a bit and then I headed up the path to my place but stopped to photograph some Sensitive Ferns (Onoclea sensibilis) by the side of the path.

Mike came into the woods and pointed out a couple of other plants, including a scarlet trillium with huge leaves (Trillium erectum, variously called Red or Purple Trillium, Birthroot or Wake-robin) and one he thought might be some kind of Gooseberry and I thought might be in the genus Ribes. It turns out it was Ribes cynosbati, the Prickly Gooseberry.

I am trying to relearn the plants here. I used to know them all back in the early '80s when I was working on my biology degree. But I haven't really done any botanizing since then so I've lost most of what I knew. But it is coming back fast now. I frequently remember Latin names for things but not common names, so I am trying to learn the common names as well. I gave myself a quota, three new plants a day to learn. This is such an excellent time to be here to do that! Right now I am wondering if I should up my quota to five plants a day.

Mike says it is supposed to get quite windy tonight, gusting up to 90 kph from the southwest. He says this is the kind of wind that takes down trees, I hope none come down tonight.

Mike has lived here since the mid-70s, he has learned a lot about these woods and this place. When he first came here he spent a fair bit of time with Sam Schofield, a local farmer in his 70s, and I think he learned a lot from Sam about farming and the woods. Sam used to ride his tractor back into the woods to visit Mike. I think Sam passed on a lot of what he knew to Mike. And now Mike has lived here long enough to have learned a lot himself, he has become quite an expert in his own right.


Anonymous said...

Go for five plants a day. You can do it!

Zabetha said...

Well, there may not be 5 plants a day to do! And anyway, I'm lazy, 3 seems a nice easy target ;-)