11 February 2011


(I spent two weeks in Lincoln, Oregon in May of 2004. I wielded a mean chainsaw in the woods with a friend during the day, read, wrote, pontificated, cooked by night. Here's an excerpt.)

Woke at 6am. Another chilly morning, and beautiful. Breathing such cool, sharp, pure air first thing in the morning is something I could get used to. We hit the site by 7, Jim met us up there. We got fires going right away, there was a lot of dragging and wrestling with the branches. I got a little friendlier with the piles of blaze and maybe more brave. We had our noses to the flames for the better part of the morning, took our coffee break (Oreos were involved), then back to the inferno. It was quiet work, kind of nice. Doug was talking about the monks who believe there is value in contemplating the task that is in front of you. No mindless work, just mindful work. I like this. We broke for lunch after I took out about 7 or 8 trees, then topped the ones reaching across the road.

We sat in the sun, we three at the base of our favorite trees (still standing), and Doug doled out the lunch Marj had graciously sent up with us. We remarked on how much better sandwiches taste when made by someone else. We talked about our families and siblings. Good talk, quite humorous at times. I like listening to Doug's voice and watching his mouth move when he tells stories, so deliberate and earnest. It sort of calms me. His wavy white hair peeking out from a bright blue bandanna, his kind brown face and white stubble, laughing eyes behind smoke-smudged glasses.

We broke out the tractor after lunch and, boy-oh-boy, what a sight to see. Three chains, one cable, turn that baby on and watch the huge trunks careening through the slash, right toward you, nevermind the stumps and the fires. It's remarkable. We drug three trees a little too close to the fires, though, so we had to work quickly for a solid hour, limbing and cutting, all three of us. We made fast work of them, started another fire and then got our beers from the cooler and sat on a log. It feels so good to work my body to its limit (or seemingly past it), accomplishing visible things, then sitting and admiring the progress, cold brew in hand. It is something so simple and so satisfying.

We topped off the water jugs, cleaned up, reassessed, put the chainsaws in the Scout and descended once more from the smoky heights. Now I'm shiny clean and fresh (save for several blisters and a lot of sap stuck to my palms), heading to the house soon to start a strawberry-rhubarb pie....