Saturday, December 13, 2008
Frost and Fire
Winter is here, nature tells me this, not the Astronomers..Frost covered everything one cold morning last week.. It sparkled like sugar on the roof of our smithy, the fallen leaves, the branches of our apple trees.
The above picture captures it as it began to melt, the twisted damascus billet caught my eye with it's contrasting lines.
Our bellows and upturned forge were completely frosted. but it soon melted off.
Now we await a big , Arctic air mass to descend, and plunge us into Winter proper. With 5 inches of snow here in the valley, several feet of snow up in the mountains, and 20 degree temps. I know.. some people have long, dark, cold, snow filled Winters that would put our moderate ones to shame, what you have to understand is I love snow. I like it when the ponds freeze over so thick you can go skating. When the snow stays awhile.. school is called off, snowmen last more than an afternoon, the woods become cathedrals to Winter's beauty...so I say Wassail! Bring it on! Snow a blanket of white , the great equalizer.
Good thing we have a fresh stack of firewood!
Got Wood?The Big Dead Doug Fir Awaits Our Saw..
The wonderful Eileen offered us some firewood that was standing on her property. All we had to do was come and cut it down..So we did. For the last few days we took a break from forge work to go fetch firewood. It was truly a community effort. Eileen, Mother Hen, Big Phil, the Hubbinator and Myself chainsawed, bucked, split, loaded, un-loaded and stacked two trees.
Eileen owns one of the nicest chunks of Oregon woods you'd ever like to see. It's secluded, and tranquil and when I am there I never want to leave. It was cold and not raining when we got there, which is a happy thing.It stayed dry too, and the sun came out to warm us.
This brought out the fungus..
Fungus on the Forest Floor
The forest floor was covered in little mushrooms of every variety, some edible, some will surely send you straight to the underworld with liver failure..So we just admired them and skipped the potential dying part..
Long ago woodsmen used what was called a "Misery Whip", or a big, long two handles saw. Two men on either end of the saw would whip back and forth, putting their entire bodies into motion to get the saw through the tree. It took great endurance, will, and was miserable work. Hence Misery Whip. We however used a chain saw instead. Sure we love our living history nerdiness, but sometimes that can be impractical..
Dan elected to run the saw, manly man that he is..The rest of us stood back, well back and spotted the top of the tree. If it moved, even a bit, we had to yell so Dan (and the rest of us)could get the hell out of the way.
TIMBER!!!-Well, sort of...
Dan ran the saw, as Eileen gave him moral support, and direction on the cuts needed. I would have gotten a shot of him sawing, but I was too engrossed with the suspense of it all and completely forgot I had a camera in my pocket.....Some photo journalist Iam...
Chainsaw growling and buzzing like a mad hornet Dan made the proper cuts in the truck that would get the tree to fall in the right spot. He was calm on the outside, but I knew inside he was nervous..It's a dangerous thing sawing down a tree.
The tree began to gently sway, we all shouted "There it goes!" Dan and Eileen scampered quickly out of the way.The mighty fir began to fall, we all watched breathlessly when suddenly it stopped. It leaned like the Tower of Pisa, not moving.This was kinda of shitty to be honest.
We stood gaping open mouthed in amazement. Why was itn't falling? Seconds passed, Dan walked up to the thing and pushed it. Mother Hen gasped, I nearly had a fit. Another nudge with his boot, He backed away. We all heard a creaking sound...Then slowly, it began to fall again, heading exactly where we wanted it to fall, with a huge KeeeRunch!!! Of limbs, and branches.
Huzzah! We all shouted in unison. Smiles all around, back patting, gratitude for my Husband (or any of us) not getting squished.
So the sawing continued unabated as Dan and Eileen cut the thing up into rounds. Mother Hen, Big Phil and I drug the things out of the woods. Eileen the Mighty and I split them into manageable logs for stacking. Phil drove the little tractor and loaded them into our truck.
Everyone worked their butts off. A group effort well done!
Isn't it gorgeous?
I loved this pic. They look like stars, the golden red wood , the lichen covered bark..
It is Lucia's day. Prior to the calendar reform - from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1582 - Saint Lucia's feast day fell on the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice.
Hmmm...interesting...firewood, light, candles, the Solstice, Yule...
As I sit here a fire burns brightly in the hearth. It crackles and snaps merrily, warming our home. The cats vie for the warmest chair to sleep on, the one with the golden, creamy, silken sheep fleece from lovely Devon. All the way from Locks Park Farm. On the mantle stand two handsome straw Jul Swine, positively radiating ancient Nordic Yuletide prosperity..
On the sideboard in the kitchen brilliant yellow, sweet saffron dough waits. Soon to be made into Lussikatter, to celebrate the return of the light and the promise of returning life to the land.
How lucky am I to have such wonderful friends, old and new, near and far?
Thank you Paula, and Marie. Thank you Hubbinator,Eileen, Mother Hen, Big Phil and the land herself for giving so much to us all. May all my friends and strangers who read this little blog o' mine, know light and joy this St. Lucia's day!