Loggers I have known

Lately someone asked me to write a story about loggers, which is a real coincidence since I happen to be in the middle of writing a book titled “Loggers I Have Known.”
Loggers have gotten a bad reputation lately. They are blamed for everything from noise pollution to cutting down trees. 
Fair enough. Loggers do cut down trees.
That might be a good thing. If you’re reading this on paper, made from wood, inside a house built of wood, that’s warm and toasty on a frozen morning because you have a wood stove.
You should thank a logger and count your blessings. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have indoor plumbing. What toilet is complete without toilet paper?
Would aluminum foil be a sustainable substitute in this age of environmental awareness?
Loggers do make noise but one man’s noise pollution is another man’s job.
It seems as if people these days would rather have trees rot in the woods and make soil than give someone a job cutting a board out of them.
They believe it’s the topsoil that grows trees. If that was true then the world record sized cedar, fir, hemlock and spruce of the Olympic Peninsula rain forest would be growing someplace with topsoil like Iowa.
They don’t. Our trees grow out of steep mountains of solid rock.
That’s where Clyde found us logging on the dawn of a frosty morning.
We were trying to untangle a chunk of rusty wire rope with marlin spikes and hammers. All part of an effort to salvage some old-growth windfalls cut them into cants and recycle them into someone’s house.
“This reminds me of the last Depression,” Clyde observed.
He should know. Clyde was born in a logging camp, grew up in the Great Depression then shipped overseas in the war, the big one, WWII.
Then he came home to make the post war boom that made our country so cool. Clyde had logged more timber than we would ever see in our lifetime. By then Clyde was retired so he had plenty of time to “shoot the breeze” and we almost had enough sense to listen.
Our logging show was a pleasant setting, with mossy rocks for benches around a stump fire where a Dutch oven full of elk stew bubbled to one side and plenty of hot coffee. Clyde watched the proceedings for a while and said, “I’ve got just the thing you need in my truck.”
That much was true.
Inside the back of Clyde’s truck there was enough tools and survival equipment to build a cabin. He rummaged around for a while and came up with a magic tool, the black powder wedge.
This was an antique explosive device about the size of a quart bottle that you filled with gunpowder pounded into a log and ignited. The explosion would then split the log lengthwise, saving us the trouble of cutting it into cants.
The trouble was it had been so long since Clyde had used the exploding wedge he had forgot just how much powder you should use.
“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing,” Clyde said as he filled the wedge to the brim full of powder. Then he pounded it into the end of a log while I hid behind a large stump.
After several attempts to light the fuse there was a loud “Boom”
When the smoke cleared I poked my head around the stump. The log was shattered into kindling sticks. Clyde was still standing there, wondering where I went off to.
That was a good day’s logging.

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