full blackness of night arriving at five
Sunday, November 26 2006
It was yet another beautiful unseasonably warm late autumn day. No matter how lovely such days are, at this time of year they're always short, with the full blackness of night arriving at 5pm. It's a crime to spend the precious daylight hours of a day like this anywhere but outside.
I took the electric chainsaw out to the backyard, which has had four years to revert back to whatever abandoned yards become in the eastern foothills of the Catskills. But I wasn't so much interested in new growth as I was in the stuff that had already grown big and died. I had my sights on two dead oak trees I wanted to cut up into firewood. One was small and about fifty feet into the forest; I'd already felled it and dragged half of it into the yard. The other was a good ten inches in diameter at the base, a branchless rotting trunk about 30 feet tall. At the end of the chain saw's extension cord, I managed to cut it down in a few seconds, though of course it got hung up on something else and I found myself having to cut it again part way up (from beneath, so as to avoid pinching). After a few minutes of Catskill Chainsaw Massacre, I'd created a surprisingly large pile of bone-dry firewood. At that moment it seemed like a desperately-needed transfusion of fuel. Every time I fear I'm cutting too deeply into the stock of wood necessary to survive the bleakest two months of winter, I managed to find some new source to replenish it.
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