want exciting useful work? try logging.


Biking the Greenwood Road we saw loggers working their gigantic machines, cutting, chopping, mincing the forest. The noise was tremendous, industrial.  I stepped over a log-laid ditch to ask if I might take pictures, and was given the nod with smiles. When I came back to R. after taking these images, he asked—concerned lest they be suspicious.  I’ve before encountered the “polite handling” in woods when coming across the work.


But our living and retirement came from this work, indirectly through lumber and paper mills.  And it is a stay of the community along with resort tourism.  But people mulch yards, live in houses, sit on furniture, read and shelve newspapers, magazines, and books, made from this renewable resource.  In winter we heat our house with it.  Gadgets made with ores and heavy metals and other refined poisons are not easily recycled like products made from wood.  They make for the destruction of the earth but are scarcely spoken of except to receive praise.  I’m praising these giant machines and the gadgets on which we read this post. Praise to you, gadgets, machines.

Here you can just make out the skidder trail going up into woods at center.


There’d been a spirit of enthusiasm between the loggers and me. And while I was shouting, asking a few questions about the machines and protective gear, one logger and I couldn’t help grinning, talking about how exciting it was. Compare the evolving industry … and the excitement of Thoreau’s stay in the mid-1800s Maine woods:

It was easy to see that driving logs must be an exciting as well as arduous and dangerous business. All winter long the logger goes on piling up the trees which he has trimmed and hauled in some dry ravine at the head of a stream, [waiting for] Thaw and Rain and Freshet and Wind, the whole pack in full cry, [carrying all downstream] toward the Orono Mills. . . They jam together at rapids and falls, and accumulate in vast piles, which the driver must start at the risk of his life. Such is the lumber business, which depends . . . on a sufficient freshet in the spring, to fetch the logs down . . . . Making many a wet and uncomfortable camp on the shore, the boy  learns to walk on floating logs as city boys on sidewalks . . . able to navigate a log as if it were a canoe, and be as indifferent to cold and wet as a muskrat. He uses a few efficient tools,—a lever commonly of rock maple, six or seven feet long, with a stout spike in it . . . with a screw at the end of the spike to make it hold.


Shredding the leavings for mulch or paper-making.

For top statistical position in industrial accidents, logging and coal mining alternate. Despite the excitement, this was a selective cutting.  Maybe Jayber Crow would not be too outraged?

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