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Wednesday, September 26, 2007 

dont chop anything

Dont chop anything

I heard these words on a Christmas after I had had 11 trips around the sun.
I received an axe for use on camping trips that I imagined myself taking.
It was a beautiful axe. It had a short handle and a cool sheath that covered the blade.

It was perfect for packing in a backpack and using for most chores.
I knew from all the old crusty mountain men that I knew that if you were lost in the wilderness if you had an axe you could take care of your self for any period of time.
It would be nice to have a gun and of course a knife and a tent would make life a little easier, oh and maybe 70 pounds of pork and beans, and perhaps some water would be nice too, but you had to have an axe, and now I had one.

The first thing I did was, sharpen my axe. It came with a blade about as sharp as a hubbard squash, and any good 11 year old knows that will not do. I sharpened my axe until it would shave the hair off of my 11-year-old arm.
I demonstrated this to my mother; she sighed, and wandered off mumbling that she should have taken a pill. I never did understand

I immediately went out in the yard searching for something to chop. I found a power pole my father had erected in the back yard to supply electricity to his workshop. I gave it a whack. A large piece of wood flew from the pole. Moments latter a large piece of wood flew to my behind. Dad had spotted me whacking the pole and had picked up a piece of wood from his work shop and snuck up behind me and popped me a good one.

I decided to search for a better source of chopping. Dad pointed to a tree in the pasture that he did not particularly like and told me to go cut it down.
I found out latter he pointed it out thinking that it would keep me busy for the better part of the summer.

The tree in question was a sycamore tree. It was 8 feet around and was shading a large portion of a hayfield. For those of you who do not know shade is not good on a hayfield. And Sycamore trees produce an annoying amount of balls the size of golf balls that cause problems on certain hay bailers namely ours. It is also hard.

I attacked the tree with a fervor that can only be described as the passion of an 11-year-old woodsman. After about an hour I had a notch carved in the tree about the size of a ham sandwich. As a matter of fact Fat Head Murphy my next door neighbor came over and told me “Boy you been chopping on that tree all day and have cut a notch smaller that this ham sandwich I am eating”. I thanked him and went back to chopping.
After two weeks I finally made a notch large enough for a drink of water and that notch to this day holds a glass jar that the tree has grown to.

Latter I accidentally chopped up some azaleas, a close line pole, a barn door, and the string that held together some round bales of hay. Then somehow the axe disappeared. I assume I lost it, at least that is what mom said. When I was 25 it reappeared when I was trying to clear off a fencerow and had broken the handle of a friendly double bitted axe. Oddly I had managed to misplace it all those years ago in the back of my mother’s closet.
It has proved to be quite useless in cutting wood. It is as if Excalibur had been reduced to a butter knife. It is too small and too short to really fell trees or brush, so I figure I will give it to my son when he is old enough to handle an axe. I am sure I will tell him

“don’t chop anything”.

Snagley out.