I was on my way out to the woods, dragging a cart that carried my saw, chaps, fuel mix, bar oil, water, etc. and I checked the grafts that line the path, the pawpaws and the hickories. The hickory grafts are just two weeks old and have only just started breaking through the parafilm. True success is yet to be determined. I stopped to photo the young mantis eating a fly leg on the Bud Luers graft.
There is very little work that is as satisfying as chainsaw work, especially in the situation of cleaning up a wind-thrown, blown down group of trees. I like the slow, methodical work, the looking and seeing how this tree needs to come down first and then be limbed then that tree comes down on top of that, et cetera. The area afterwards is totally changed. Its a whole new place.
Plus, yesterday I had the opportunity to do my new favorite thing – twice. If you’re not familiar with blow-downs they usually tip up the ground and expose root wads. A lot of times on a shallow rooted tree, like a maple, these are very tall and maybe only a foot or two thick – like the carpet of the forest has been lifted, tilted up vertical to look under. In fact, archeologists will often look under these and find the detritus of our humanity, arrowheads and whatnot, exposed. Well, I didn’t have any of those but I should say first what I’m doing cutting these trees up.
First off, I’m cleaning up a dangerous situation. The kids like to play on downed trees. They have since they were tiny. I don’t blame them. A lot of times a downed tree is more fun than any playground that I’ve ever seen. Our firewood trees are always hardwoods and the branches are strong and pliable. The kids always lament when I turn their playground to firewood. But such is the case when you burn wood, that there are always new trees and new playgrounds that will come down. So anyway, I’m cleaning the situation up because, in this case, I didn’t fell the trees, the wind did that and didn’t do so clean a job. Secondly, I’m cutting mushroom logs – both bolts for shiitake and totems for lionsmane and oyster. Thirdly, I’m prepping firewood for the year.
This is about normal time for me to get my firewood trees in order anyway. I suppose it’d be better to have my wood cut a year prior but we’ve burnt so little the last couple of years that I don’t worry so much. We still have a good pile from last year and the stuff I’m cutting now will dry the rest of the summer, fall and most of winter. Fourth, I’m cutting a road on the other side of the creek to access the back part of our property where we are going to build what my wife is calling a “residence” and I’m calling a “shack”.
So anyway, I didn’t mean to get into writing lists or so much detail. I’m boring myself. I will say though that there is something about cutting a road through the woods. It is also a very deliberate and thoughtful thing. The path the road takes is very important. I don’t like to cut just any tree. And so far, I’m very happy with my route. I’m about halfway done. The grade and the turns are nice. There’s no long slope that would cause erosion or require water-bars. So far, so good.
It is fairly exhausting work though. I’m out there sweating like the devil, going through shirt after shirt. Soaked. I don’t know how I sweat so much. The exhausting part of the work comes when, for example, grape vines hold a tree up in the canopy and you have to lift the cut trunk and run with it away from the stump and hope it falls and when it doesn’t fall you walk out along the top of the sideways, dangling trunk and somehow balance yourself and bounce up and down to try and dislodge the grapevines that are doing their best to hold on. Or when you’re tired, and you don’t cut the right tree first and you get a tree hung up on another tree and then you got to try get that sucker off there with brute force or crude log leavers.
So that’s what’s going on. The first day I started working on all this was Friday and after I had just got going with the chainsaw it rained on me. It was very wonderful and I stayed out there as long as I could then wrapped up my gear and went home when I started getting too wet. I bore the rain no ill will for stopping my work. None what so ever. Not a track of a trace, like a bird’s path through the sky – all clear. Then after I’d been home, the rain stopped and I’d had my break and I went out to the woods again, this time I brought an umbrella because there was more rain in the forecast. And I worked with the saw, limbing this side and then that of the oak and the maple and the rain started again.
And then I huddled with my saw under the umbrella there in the woods a long time as the rain poured. Resting, watching, waiting. Thankful for the rain. And there was a moment when I looked out from under my great rainbow umbrella that I saw the sun streaming into the forest and the rain pouring down still and the steam rising through the leaves and the light shining and sparkling. The rain and the sun at the same time, through every layer of the canopy in the woods. I think it was the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever seen.
Oh, and I forgot to describe my new favorite thing: severing the trunk of a tree from a tipped up root wad. I got to do that twice, once Friday and again yesterday. One of the root wads was about 11′ tall and it came down with a great thud back into its place. A very wonderful and fun thing to do.
Otherwise, I’m still on a Beatles kick. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window is by far my favorite song on the albums in rotation: Abbey Road and Help! And we watched another Aamir Khan movie, 3 Idiots. Watch that and try not crying when the baby is delivered. And try not to get the song Zubi-dubi stuck in your head.