Cutting Firewood With Colorful Language

Cutting firewood with a balky chainsaw would test anyone's patience. As I lost control of my temper, my daughter found a small fortune.


| December/January 1993



cutting firewood, colorful language

The bounty my daughter collects whenever I use colorful language ate up some of the money we saved by cutting firewood ourselves.


ILLUSTRATION: RICK KIRKMAN

"We need more firewood — pronto," Joy advises this morning. My wife comes from Vermont, where the laconic locals keep 50 cords of seasoned oak on hand and get paranoid with less. Out here in Oregon, the winters are merely cold.

It's a nice clear Saturday. Self, wife, and daughter pile in the old pick-up, grunting in low gear as we climb five miles up to a vast clear-cut: the result of rising timber prices and logging methods based on frenzied economics rather than planetary values.

Serenity, our nine-year-old, gets out of the truck and frowns. "That's big-time ugly," she says.

"No amount of profit," I expound in fatherly tones, "can mitigate the bio-trashing of clear-cuts. But among all this waste, there's an awful lot of fuel. Joy and I share a smile. The idea today is not only collecting and cutting firewood but also instilling lessons about ecology, especially because this clear-cut is our backyard environment.

This should be an educational and rewarding field trip. A cigarette would make it ideal, but I quit smoking almost a year ago (341 days, seven hours, 15 minutes). For today, I stick with chewing gum. They say the nicotine urge does go away completely — when you're dead.

My urge to buy a new chain saw is stronger than ever. The technology of gas-powered saws has advanced so far that mine is now an unsafe clunker by today's standards. Like me, it's old and temperamental. It started fine last night, in a heated garage under optimum test conditions. Ten pulls on the starter rope have no effect. Ten more prove the adage that wood warms you twice. Fifteen more erode my sweet disposition. Ren goes off to find wood chunks. "Did you check the gas?" Joy asks.

I flash her a fairly sardonic look. "Of course I checked, darling." I check again ... plenty of gas. Must be the points. "Must be the $@#*! points," I say aloud to myself.





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