It was after noon. I knew the boy unit’s after-school plans were up in the air, so I came home to wait for his call.

My day was about cutting dry pine poles out of the woods. There are places that are getting to be mature forest. Many of the white pine have been shaded out by hardwoods and they’ve died and dried.

They make good posts and good firewood, and cutting them opens up the woods.

Well, we live in the Adirondacks. So, that means — like many other areas in the park — we don’t get cell service. That means I have to go over a mile to get a call.

We have telephone and power poles running up and down almost every road, but the idea of putting up a cell tower is considered to be a stain on the “viewscape.”

I like living in the park, but it is ridiculous in this modern world that communication is a problem.

My friend Randy has often called me on holidays from remote parts of Kenya on his cellphone.

I don’t carry one because it doesn’t work here. If my truck or tractor gets stuck, I have to walk to a landline to call for help. I’ve often walked several miles for that kind of thing. Sometimes the police have had problems using radios out here.

It’s kind of unfair to residents who live in a world that relies on cellphones for almost everything that one of the major restrictions they have is about a pole or tower here and there.

So anyway, I come indoors to wait near my telephone at the house for a few hours. No call. The school bus drives by. No word. Then, boy unit pulls up in a car driven by a friend.

Oh, good grief.

I put the young feller in charge of chores and head back to the woods.

To my surprise, I actually get some work done. Sure enough, it’s February and the sun is climbing in the sky, the days are lengthening and I hardly noticed. I’ve been cowering from winter instead of paying attention to its slow passing.

I’m guessing other people are noticing the lengthening days as well. A few days ago I noticed a lone snowmobile track going through my wood lot. I have a little camp up there consisting of one old travel trailer.

I checked inside and found someone had lifted my two ice augers — my Laser for perch and my Fin-Bore for flags.

Two ice augers gone. And I know whoever took them must know me. The odds are very slim that someone wandered into those snowy woods who doesn’t know the area well.

It’s pretty low to steal a person’s tools, especially their fishing gear. If you recall, someone lifted a chain saw out of my truck during the late summer.

When I add all of that up, it comes out to about the equivalent of a week-long round trip to see my old dad in Florida.

Now, I’m going to have to put that off. And that doesn’t make me, 60 years old, or my dad very happy.

It was a long decision to buy those augers 20 years ago. It’s not so different today.

I know how many hours it takes to work for things. Those hours have in some ways been stolen from me as well.

I know, the augers are just things. But those things have only been used in the company of my late friend John, or all by myself in the solitude of the wilderness. So they have some sentiment attached to them.

It’s a modern world. But up here, sometimes it seems a bit like a third world in which a petty theft is just another thing, and a cellphone call can be a world away when things get tough.

Things will get easier. Winter is always a pain.

Waiting to break out the sunscreen, Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley. You can leave him a message at


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