With the summer fire season almost upon us, I finally had my fields mowed last Friday. Most of the grass was already dry, and tractor owner Gary Titus brought a rig down from Tomales to do the work.

Gary Titus mowing my fields in June 2007. He’s bought a new tractor since then but does less mowing.

Gary spent several hours driving up and down my hill, managing to stay upright even on steep sections. For years Gary has mowed my fields, but he’s basically in the electric-gate business, and by now he has only three mowing customers. Luckily, I’m one of them.

The trick each year is to figure out when to do the mowing.

If I get it done too early, some grass will grow back — especially if it rains. If I wait too long, the fire season will have begun.

This year, as always, I waited until I was sure the rains were finally over before I asked Gary to do the mowing.

Gary showed up the next day, did his work, and four days later, the rains were back.

There was a day when the change of seasons counted for something, but as rain soaked this hill Tuesday and Wednesday, I could see where some grass was already turning green.

Nor is that the biggest problem around Mitchell cabin. Last week I discovered that fascia boards along the eaves at the back of the house need to be replaced, along with adjacent timbers and a bunch of shingles.

Leo Gilberti of Fairfax carries a rotten fascia board to one end of the eaves while Terry Gray of Inverness Park takes measurements.

The work has required a couple of trips over the hill to pick up supplies.

In fact, I had to drive all the way to Santa Rosa in a friend’s truck just to buy shingles.

Surprisingly, no roofing-materials store in Marin County had brick-red shingles in stock although all of them without exception said they would be getting some before too long.

Is there an unreported brick-red-shingle fad underway in Marin?

Or do few stores keep the shingles in stock because few people buy them?

In either case, Allied Building Products on Santa Rosa Avenue for the moment has a lock on the brick-red-shingle business in Marin and Southern Sonoma County.

My friend Terry Gray is helping me with the project.

Originally I had planned to start stripping shingles off the eaves on Tuesday, but then came the rain. I try to avoid working on my roof in the rain — especially when the work involves removing part of the roof.

On Wednesday, however, we resumed the roofing project before a last sprinkling had completely tapered off, for I could remember an old song called The Arkansas Traveler:

“Oh, once upon a time in Arkansas,/ An old man sat in his little cabin door/ And fiddled at a tune that he liked to hear,/ A jolly old tune that he played by ear./ It was raining hard, but the fiddler didn’t care,/ He sawed away at the popular air,/ Tho’ his rooftree leaked like a waterfall,/ That didn’t seem to bother the man at all.

“A traveler was riding by that day,/ And stopped to hear him a-practicing away;/ The cabin was a-float and his feet were wet,/ But still the old man didn’t seem to fret./ So the stranger said, ‘Now the way it seems to me,/ You’d better mend your roof,’ said he./ But the old man said as he played away,/ ‘I couldn’t mend it now; it’s a rainy day.’

“The traveler replied, ‘That’s all quite true,/ But this, I think, is the thing to do;/ Get busy on a day that is fair and bright,/ Then patch the old roof till it’s good and tight.’/ But the old man kept on a-playing at his reel,/ And tapped the ground with his leathery heel./ ‘Get along,’ said he, ‘for you give me a pain;/ My cabin never leaks when it doesn’t rain.'”