Today the men are coming, and they are bringing their machines. The big diggers and claws and shovels and saws will take care of 50 years of brush piles, fallen trees, wild honeysuckle, deadstands, and brambles, revealing wild cherry and strawberry and apple and hickory nut already (and that’s just before 9am). I’ve never seen a more beautiful sight. They might as well put this backhoe in a centerfold.
I want a chainsaw. There are a lot of downed trees in my woods (including an amazing lightning tree, burnt at the edges, 75 feet long, that split off of a tree with a ten food trunk… I’ll share here sometime) and since we heat the house with the woodstove, all that wood just seems like free money lying around. Not to mention the extreme satisfaction I know I’d get from the tidiness that clearing up all that junkwood would afford. Every time I go out in them woods I can’t believe how much the trees shed. Branches and brambles, huge limbs, fallen-now-mossy trunks. Sticks of the world unite. At an awesome boozy dinner party, I had the good fortune to sit across from Shirlee, snake wrangler, shaman artist, and chainsaw mistress and she says she’ll give me lessons. And then she sent me the above picture. All kinds of cleaning up is in order.
When I first stumbled across Best Made, a New York based company whose absolutely gorgeous hand-hewn and painted axes retail for up to $300, I had a smarmysmirk. I can certainly get behind the idea that objects of use should be objects of beauty, that form, function, build and tame are among the most ancient human impulses as we have. But, I thought, come on. A (stunning) $300 axe for uppity, bearded, maketank New Yorkers to hang on the wall of their lofts for show? Because-seriously-who-in-New-York-has-a-tree-and-if-you-were-lucky-enough-to-have-a-tree-why-on-earth-would-you-chop-it-down. Birch Please.
Then. I found the stump in my backyard. This old stump had at one point been burnt, covered in bricks and debris, forgotten until Sweetheart and I unearthed it in a torrent of centipedes and (my) shrieking. On Monday, it was the size of the red oval:
I broke it up myself using a rusty old axe I found in the backyard that must have belonged to the original landlords from the 1850’s. This is what my axe looks like:
Oof. My axe is like off-brand jeans. It works OK, but it could be a little shiner and a LOT sharper. New York is funny in this way, it can give you little nuggets of self-revelation that come with sweat and honest toil, and in the same fell swing can make you covetous of a $300 axe named “Flashman”. And the crazy thing? I think I might have earned it.