Sunday, 7 December 2008

Chainsaw massacre

Tree-cutting by the canals. I think of BW as the lions bringing down the poor beasts with their huge chainsaws, working in a team. Then there are the hyena boaters with smaller chainsaws, moving in to claim the trunk and biggest boughs. Finally there are the vultures (that's me) swooping in with bow-saws for the smaller branches and, if the tree was dead and dry, the twigs for kindling.
I'm always sorry to see any tree cut down but I was really sad to see a boater who had taken it upon himself to clear a whole area of scrub woodland with his own chainsaw. He had cut down all the elders on one space, regardless of thinning the trees or leaving some trunks intact, in his own private slash 'n burn frenzy. None of the trees could have been infringing on the wide towpath as they were set well back. I guess he chose the elders as trees that don't need much drying out to burn or perhaps he genuinely thought they were dead as they look so pale and brittle in winter, but the branches he'd left strewn about the place were springy and clearly healthy.
I was trying to rationalise this, thinking well, isn't this what man has always done to warm himself? But I'm not convinced. Five minutes walk further up, there were loads of huge fallen boughs and I'm always coming across wonderful great piles of wood that I just can't tackle with my puny saw but which a chainsaw could make short work of.
People sometimes suggest I get a chainsaw (to save my back!) and I think they're good for people who otherwise couldn't cope, but I don't want that thoughtless power in my hands. This is going to sound hopelessly hippyish I know but, I like cutting wood at the pace of my arm movements, earning the right to burn it, using up every last piece out of a sort of respect. I like using human energy, not fuel energy. Ok, apart from the hippy stuff, I just know if I had a chainsaw, I'd bury the bugger in my own leg within the week.

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