Walking in a rare, chilly rain, the weather here in the Middle East more autumnal than wintry, my wife and I daydream of weather in more northern climates, pine trees and damp soil and fires in fireplaces. I mention that if we have a fireplace again in our near future, I’d like to split my own wood, and suddenly I remember my early adolescence, down in the wooded ravine behind my parents’ house in Texas, my dad with a chainsaw and me with an ax, a sledgehammer and the splitting wedge. We had several dead trees, and my dad wanted to fell them to thin the woods for younger trees and to stockpile the firewood we really didn’t need in Texas but which I loved anyway. We argued a lot, my father and I, but outdoors, working in the trees, we found peace together. My father is a woodsman by nature, raised in the Boy Scouts and degreed in forestry, and down there among our own trees he held a kind of authority even a teenage son couldn’t question. He knew which trees to cut, how to fell them without damaging the surrounding flora, what lengths to saw the logs and how best to split the wood. In those hours I was not some know-it-all kid wasting time with the old man; I was an apprentice. Our love of the land and our love of working with our hands became our love for each other, and we never had to say so out loud.
Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown
I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin. View more posts