Not long ago we had to take down a big cedar in our yard. It had heart rot and had begun to split in two. Since it was a dangerous tree we had a professional take it down in 12 foot sections and planned to use it for posts in our chicken paddocks at the farm.
Having just returned from Kansas for a family emergency my boss graciously suggested I take the day. Getting into our damp forest has always made me feel whole again, somehow fulfilled, and today it made all the difference. Heart rot. Not far from the reason I went to visit family. Even more appropriate was taking this destruction and death and turning it into something useful. It is useful for us, and the time in the woods was useful for me.
Leap frogging the wedges and methodically following the grain of the log traced the tree’s growth over the years. From a sapling in crowded alder regrowth to the apex species and canopy dominator it truly is. The smell of it and the damp humus made me think of childhood adventures and the physical effort helped put some of the brooding from the previous week behind me.
I left my drawknife at the farm but my froe and a hatchet cleaned up the rails nicely. I thought of Abraham Lincoln splitting black locust for rail road tracks. My cedar would make someone from those days laugh if I called it much of an effort. Locust is dense and hard and this cedar splits so easily.
While these don’t look that pretty, they will do nicely for our temporary posts. A little rot is OK with me since in 5-6 years the black locust we are planting in the fence lines will be big enough to take over the burden. In the end making something from this mess, finding something positive in the cycle of destruction and rebirth seems fine too.