Being a lumberjack is more than a hearty breakfast and a brief nap to be prepared to function at top shape. It is also about the proper attire and the proper skill set. I have both. Attire includes an old pair of jeans, preferably with bloodstains on them. I have such a pair; a good bit frayed at the cuffs, bloodstains on the right thigh, threadbare in several places. One also needs an old, long-sleeved flannel shirt to protect the arms from scratches, gouges, and dismemberment. Bloodstains are good for the shirt, too. But in the summer, I usually just wear a t-shirt, valuing comfort over safety. Heavy work boots are ideal. I have a pair that, together, weigh about 37 pounds and take 17 minutes each to put on. They once saved two states from a huge forest fire in North Carolina, but that’s another story. Gloves are good, too, but not critical.
As for skill set, I have that, too. But I must say it is in a constant state of sharpening. Just as it is key to have a sharpened set of teeth on the chainsaw, it is critical to be constantly improving one’s skills. Chainsaws really can be fun, and I’m happy to say that I’ve discovered that anew this summer. But having fun with chainsaws should take a back seat to being talented with a chainsaw. Finally, when one is bringing down a big tree, and I took down several this summer, one should know how to make sure the tree falls exactly where one wants it to fall. To that end, I dropped two 30-footers at the exact spot where I wanted them. Then I proceeded to cut them up into firewood and fencing. On the other hand, to be candid, I was not so successful with two others. I notched them in the direction I wanted them to fall, then proceeded to cut until I heard the distinct sound of wood cracking, yelled “TIMBER!”, and stood back to watch them land where I wanted. And then sprinted away as quickly as my lead feet could carry me because the trees decided to fall 180 degrees from where I planned. Had I stood in place very long, the tree would have hammered me into the ground like a tent stake.
That can be humbling because, once that tree is down, everyone can see that I screwed up. On the other hand, it inspires me to set to work quickly to cut up the evidence.
Now, sadly, there are no more trees to cut down. The property is as my long-suffering wife, Lisa, wants it. BUT, on a recent trip to Connecticut to see our older daughter and her husband, we learned they are seriously considering buying several acres of land and just might need an experienced lumberjack to help them clear out a tree or two. One can only hope