Who Doesn't Like Chainsaws?


In Taos, almost everyone has a fireplace or a wood stove. For most of us, it's our primary heat source. Last Thursday, I took the kids on a field trip to learn about how we source it, cut it and haul it.

We took turns using the bow saw on some manageable branches, then watched as a friend of mine showed us the chainsaw. We were in no rush, so the kids had a chance to see it up close, watch the teeth get sharpened, and see how the gas and oil goes in. With appropriate safety gear (and a safe distance) we watched him pull-start the engine, then cut a few logs.

Sadly, the chain was a little dull, but this gave us the opportunity to watch him take it off and put on a new one. Meanwhile, we talked about which trees could be cut (not living ones - or even standing ponderosas, which make good animal habitat).

It's going to be some years before these kids are going to handle a chainsaw, but soon we're going to start splitting kindling for our homes. Imagine the pride of bringing home a bag of kindling to mom and dad, wood they helped find in the forest, watched being cut, then hauled and split. Forest to fire. How many of us adults really have a handle on how these materials come into our lives? Maybe we should plant trees.

I've spent quite a few years gathering wood, splitting, hauling and stacking it. But it's almost unimaginable to me the kind of strength it took the men (and women?) a century ago who had to cut it with handsaws. Imagine what those folks knew. About trees. About stamina. About hunger, joy and fear. Imagine the appreciation they had for each log they set on the fire. Isn't that the kind of relationship we seek with the earth?