Sunday, July 19, 2020

If I’d Only Known

     Back in 1974 I went to work in the woods for the now defunct Brown Company of Berlin, New Hampshire. The outfit owned 650,000 acres of woodlands and had first rights to cut on another 200,000. It was a big time paper company.
The feller-buncher would
harvest trees as large as
18 inches and would cut
two stems a minute all day
      You worked hard in the woods. We were loggers, but never called lumberjacks. That was a Hollywood made-up name or something, too sissy-sounding. There weren’t many young men in the woods then, mostly ”old guys” in their fifties and sixties. Younger men preferred something easier and maybe not so dangerous. And everyone spoke French, except for me.
      It was the end of an era. We operated out of a camp where men stayed Monday into Friday. A cook prepared meals. Those men worked hard and could cut wood like nobody I had ever seen. Danger added a little spice to the job. Looking at your wood pile you could tell how big your paycheck might be.
      I left that job to run the first mechanical tree harvester in New Hampshire, and soon ran the entire whole-tree harvesting operation. The days of men with chainsaws and logging camps were numbered.
      If I had only known I would have taken a million pictures.
      Growing up my family owned property on Cape Cod on a bay a half mile across. You couldn’t see any other cottages, it was wilderness. Electricity was miles up the road. As my father used to say, “You could go skinny dipping at noontime”.
One of our cottages sat so close to the water
a small marine railway could haul the boats inside
the basement. This picture was taken from the dock.
      Rabbits, ruffed grouse, and bobwhite quail lived in the woods. And of course ducks showed up by the thousands every fall. We traipsed through the woods with shotguns in hand or hid in the marshes. There’s no place left like that on Cape Cod now.
      If I had only know I would have taken a million pictures.
      Sixty years ago was a time when you just did things, asking permission or filing for permits never entered one’s mind. If there was something you didn’t know how to do you either tried to find something about it in a book or you just figured it out. Those how-to YouTube clips are handy, but they do nothing to exercise your brain. Henry Ford said there is no greater joy than solving problems. He was right.
      My wife and I are fortunate to live where things aren’t all that different from the way they were fifty years ago. Nobody bothers you if you don’t bother them. There’s very few things you need to ask permission about. We still march all over the country looking for ruffed grouse and woodcock. There are streams you can fish all day without seeing another angler. Our dogs are seldom on a leash.
      You know I’m going to take a bunch of pictures.

Thursday, July 9, 2020



      The hot weather has settled in and blueberries are on the mind. So far they are little green berries, but soon they’ll turn blue, usually around the first week of August.
      Black flies have come and gone. Mosquitoes linger and deer flies are the big annoyance. Lately the temperatures have been a bit high for trout fishing and the dogs mostly want to lay about. Summer has settled in. We wait for cooler temperatures and search out places for the dogs to swim.
      In August we can start looking for wild birds with the dogs. Right now it is too hot to think about such things, except for the first hour or two of the day. Our young chickens in their run amuse the dogs for hours, but even that interest fades as the temperature climbs.
      Last weekend we saw grouse out on the logging roads. For the previous month they have been pretty well hidden. People talk of seeing family broods. All of it is encouraging.
      The last of last year’s blueberries are in a pie resting on the counter in the kitchen. There is only two pieces left and that’s it. There are no more blueberries until we pick again.