As you know, we had previously – over the past few months – gathered a legion of logs down in the lagoon. They were awaiting my saw, some good weather and the w’fers muscles. The idea was to chop them up and then haul the then-smaller lengths up the hill on the highline so that they could be further processed into stove-sized pieces later on. That was the plan anyway.
But the logs we had gathered were strewn in a fan-like spread in the water at the bottom end of the highline and some were laying on others, some were balanced on rocks and all were long, heavy and slippery. Plus the latest storm had carpeted the lagoon in greasy kelp. We all approached the heap o’ Hemlock with some trepidation.
And, of course, we all fell down at one time or another – usually several times. We slipped and slithered and clambered over rocks and pushed and pulled on logs and ropes and generally manhandled tons of wood in an effort to get them all properly positioned for lifting and hauling. It was a greater challenge than I had first thought.
When the tide is in, the logs float. And, when floating, they are easy to move around but impossible to cut with a chainsaw. So, you first get them roughly ‘sorted’ and then wait for the tide to go out so that you can then walk about the now-high-but-still-wet collection doing your cuts. But by then some of the logs are out of position. That means cutting them while wielding the chainsaw at awkward angles and while standing on slippery footing with the logs sometimes poised to roll or drop on you should you be in the way when the cut is made. This is all very normal for real woodspeople but I still have a city-streak in me and the w’fers are from England. ‘Nuff said.
I cut the logs into eight-to-ten foot lengths for easier handling. Because the furthest ends cut from the longest logs are fifty feet from the high line, those ends have to be grappled with the log hauler and schlepped over the muddy-soft beach to the pick-up point. That is hard enough but, with the floor carpeted in kelp, it is damn near impossible. Thus another reason to have w’fers.
So, I cut them up and they hauled them into the beach. Sal then tied them all close to the haul-up point for lifting later. Of course it was raining. Waddya thinkin’?
When we were done we had 45 lengths tied up ready to be hauled. Each one takes ten minutes after it has been hitched up to haul to the top. Then I unhitch the piece and send the haul-line back down to the beach where Sal hooks up another. We can do four or five an hour. The pile represents ten hours of winching. Give or take.
We’ll take our time with that.
“Ohmygawd! All that wood has to be found, towed, tethered, sorted, cut and hauled – just to get it into position to buck and chop and stack! I can’t believe it!”
“Yes. And we consider ourselves lucky to be able to find the logs floating by. Can you imagine having to go foraging about the woods for them, chopping them down, limbing them and then dragging them to the water first? That is what the old-timers often had to do. And then they had to build their house, farm their land, catch fish, find work and raise children. We just quit at the end of the day and drink wine. Those old homesteaders were tough!”
“This is tough!”
“Well, it is a bit difficult at times. I’ll grant you that. But it was really tough when we were building. Back then there was no highline. There was no funicular. Or even stairs until I built them. I swear I lifted and carried every item in this house at least five times. And then Sal carried it all a few more. What we did eight years ago, we could not do now even with some of our labour saving devices like stairs and decks and machines. I complain now if I have to go to the food shed for another roll of toilet paper. We got soft fast. Well, first we went black and blue. Then we went soft.”
“We had no idea how hard it was until the last few days. It is not like the work you give us is hard. In fact, it is fun. But, of course, you don’t think about all the work involved until you do something as simple as gathering firewood. Looking around the house, I marvel at how things like stoves and furniture and roofs and chimney’s were all built. It is hard to imagine.”
“Well, that is the way to appreciate it. You learn a lot by doing. And part of it is learning how huge something as simple as the water system is. Or even the garden. But here’s the weird part……………for both of us, now………..after having been here for eight years, we would find it impossibly hard to go back to the office. We couldn’t do it. We think living in the city is really, really hard. Too hard for the likes of us. Weird, eh?”