Monday, February 02, 2009


IT ONLY HURTS WHEN I'M SURPRISED: Part I
Argument with an Oak Tree


Firewooding is inherently dangerous work, since it involves the vigorous handling of chainsaws, steel axes and mauls of various sizes and weights, as well as wedges (which is why I wear safety glasses, leather gloves and thick clothing), and often heavy chunks of unwieldy wood, which is why I wear steel-toed boots.

Such activity on my part has led not only to a warm house in winter, but also to the many firewood-related tales that punctuate these miraculously continuing chronicles, with more yet to come - time and life permitting - tales touching upon the myriad characteristics of our friends the trees, ranging from elegance, cunning and maliciousness to stubbornness, beauty, vengeance-- and in the present instance, the anger of wood.

It is not commonly realized that in the wild and woody world, nature and nurture are one and the same. As a result, any wood can be cunning, stubborn or malicious-- even cherry - dangerous for its very beauty and innocence - particularly yamazakura (lit: mountain cherry), to say nothing of the exhausting tangle that is camphorwood - and one should never assume kindredness of spirit when it comes to oak, particularly when it is gnarly.

One who is not otherwise misguided might think that these inanimate chunks of lignin are essentially dumb as a posts, but that would be a big mistake, for all wood is ingrained with a craftiness of ancient subtlety. For example, when driving a wedge into a tough piece of knotted oak, I take care to keep away from above the wedge - as, for instance, to see if it is driving true. I do this because the knotty upbringing of certain oaks, with their decades of 24/7 wild experience, can make them very touchy at the idea of surrendering to a rootless stripling like myself, and at any instant a way gnarly specimen can spit that iron wedge many feet into the air like a 1kg bullet, and each time I see it do that I say to myself in a kind of lectury way, so as to keep myself smart and try to maintain just that bit of edge over oak: Boy, I sure am glad I didn’t have my face above that wedge...

But unlike oak, humans don't remember everything.

To be continued...


2 comments:

Mary Lou said...

You have a thing with trees, dont you? ;)

Bob Brady said...

Yes, we do share a certain density at times...