Kathy Bassett's column, "The View from Maybell," appears in the Saturday Morning Press.
We were all working away. The chainsaws buzzin', the mauls choppin', the chips flyin' and the sweat pouring.
We weren't going to wait until there was a foot or more of snow on the ground before we got in our winter supply of firewood. No sir. We're getting while the getting is good.
Deer flies a bitin', sun beating down, and lovin' it when the chain saw gasps for more gas. That means "break time." Those shady trees felt pretty good right then, sitting under them and drinking up bottles of water.
This particular day, we were loading up two trucks.
Well, heck, what am I saying? We always load up two trucks. OK, we got one big ol' tree down, firewood chunks split and got her stacked in the first truck. So, we moved on to another big ol' tree. Boy, this one was a humdinger. The first V-groove was cut, and then we moved behind that one and cut a smaller one, expecting to see the tree topple. It is sort of a ritual for everyone to stand and watch the tree fall and then vote on which tree makes the loudest boom in the woods that day. It's rather cool.
But wait. The tree wasn't doing anything. It was just standing there. It had a defiant look about it. Oh my gosh! It is the most amazing thing; a person could not have planned it any better if he'd a tried. It was perfectly balanced. And there it stood.
A breeze came dancing merrily along and headed straight for that stubborn tree. Couldn't even make that ol' tree shiver. Solid as a rock it stood there.
Off came the hats, and up went the hands to scratch the tops of the heads. That is what men do when they are trying to figure something out, haven't you noticed?
Suddenly out of nowhere, came "Kid Jesse" whooping and hollerin'.
I couldn't believe my eyeballs. Whoever heard of shooting down a tree? He took steady aim and fired six shots out of his 270 right into that pointy part of the cut and guess what?
Well, unless you consider the echoes bouncing off the mountain tops and spooking the cows into running madly in every direction wondering who started a war. But nope : nothing.
The tree stood there. I think I saw one limb come around and thumb us, using a knot for his nose.
Well, the hat got slammed back onto the head and out came a MacGyver trick. Woooo Hooooo.
Larry cut several wedges and got them slammed into the back groove and then another slight cut or two, and he unbalanced that tree. It was an OK boom, but nothing spectacular.
Of course, Jesse had to go retrieve his lead, and I have to admit that at that particular split second I was just a teensy weensy bit jealous of his shooting.
Every shot had created a perfect straight line along the bottom of the big groove, looking like a big worm tunnel: I suppose if he'd a kept at it, he might have shot the tree down, the way it was lookin'.
I reckon that is pretty good shootin'.
The stubborn tree finished filling up the white truck, so we then moved onto filling up the big red truck.
Guess "the kid" was feeling pretty cocky because he picked out a giant ol' ponderosa that was down in a big deep gully.
I'm here to tell you that this particular tree made a spectacular boom when it hit the ground. The best I've heard in a long time.
Virginia and I got the little stuff up the hill, but the "kid" had to roll the big stuff up.
After the first one, he found enough chain from off the big red truck to run half-way down the gully, where he hooked into those huge slabs and pulled them out. I think he quit after four or five. It took all four of us to lift one of those slabs up onto the truck, which didn't take long to fill up.
We'll save the rest of that tree for the next firewood gittin' trip, and hopefully Jesse will pick an easier tree next time he gets to choose.