Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Lumberjack" Is "Nature" Spelled Backwards

Below is an excerpt from a friend of mine’s blog and my reply. I like to yank her chain.

… When I was young, the first weird thing I did was to climb trees

and talk to them. By the time I was a teenager, once I discovered
camping and hiking in the woods, I knew that I had a deep
connection with Nature …

… Healing must take place, in perceptions, and in Reality …

The Earth must be treasured and treated with respect ...
We are all a member of the Earth Tribe ... We are in this together, us
Earthlings … We've got this planet to live on and we need to figure out
how to do it cooperatively ...


I hear what you’re saying. I’ve always been a little “outdoorsy,” myself.

Ah, how I pine for those summers I spent as a lumberjack! This was back in the days before diesel- or gasoline-powered equipment. The best we had was an axe and a cross-cut saw. But even those were in short supply, so more often than not, we’d have to make do with a butter knife and tweezers. And if those broke, sometimes we’d just harness up a beaver and set to. I cleared eight acres of hardwood one time with nothing but a beaver and a broken beer bottle.

We felled all kinds of trees. We didn’t care. The mighty oak, the slippery elm, the dumb ash. In the winter, we chopped down maple trees and shipped them to Vermont for the syrup trade. My favorite was the bonsai, because they came down real easy. Then we’d drag those old logs down the skid road and float ’em down the river to Chinatown to make chopsticks. You had to be mighty careful with bonsai, though, when you were hopping from log to log on the river. They’re quick to roll with you.

One year we cleared the better part of Nevada. That’s why there are no trees there now. We’d chop at those trees – sometimes it would take two or three good licks to bring one down – and we’d holler, “Timbre!” Or sometimes, “Adagio!” because we thought it was right funny and we used to tease this one whistle punk, anyway, because he’d studied at Julliard.

After a hard day lumberjacking, the boys would sit around the bunkhouse eating pancakes and singing tree shanties. And sometimes we’d drink to excess. We drank turpentine mostly, which we also used for bathing. After a couple of stacks of flapjacks and three or four stiff shots of turpentine, sometimes we’d play dress-up or put on shows. That Julliard kid was the best at it.

We didn’t have much trouble with Indians back then. Now and then we had to fight off a tribe of unruly Frenchmen, though. I don’t know what riled them up – they were crazy with Jacques itch, maybe – but they were stubborn rascals. Just couldn’t seem to get rid of them. Then we started baiting bear traps with brie. That brought them up short. I’ve got a rug in my game room to this day that I made out of one of those son-of-a-guns!

I remember one time we ran out of pancakes. Most men would have packed it in and moved on. But we wanted to stick it out until this particular stand of ficus was ready to come down. We stayed in that camp without food for fourteen months and finally had to eat the sled dogs, which was O.K. because there wasn’t any snow in New Mexico, anyway. By the time it was over, one boy had gnawed his own leg off from hunger, and we had to shoot another fellow so he’d have something to eat.

Yes, sir, there’s no closer bond than the one shared by a band of lumberjacks in the great outdoors. We were just like brothers. Closer, in some cases. Until one day one of our high toppers went up north and brought himself back a lumberjill and set up house. Things just weren’t the same after that and we all drifted apart. One boy got a job with the highway department, another boy went into landscaping. I was a parking lot attendant in Las Vegas for a while until it got too commercial.

So, I know where you’re coming from. I was as close to nature as you can get without being a brutish animal. Those were the best days of my life and I shall always treasure them. I mean that from my heart. I only wish everyone could clear cut a hundred acres, then they’d know what we mean.

* * * * * *

I call "BULLSHIT" Bob!!! There is NO WAY you would have wasted brie on stinky Frenchmen!

Ah! You caught me in a fabrication. It wasn't really brie, it was cheddar. And they weren't really French. They were from Montreal.

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