As many of you know, I live a secluded life surrounded by dogs and trees (and the The Missus, but she doesn't figure in this story). I'm like a mountain man, but without the mountain, flintlock rifle, rangy beard, beaver pelts, or any applicable survival skills whatsoever.
But I do have internet service.
In order to maintain that service, I've had to cut down several trees which were blocking the Line-Of-Sight radio signal that brings the internet to this hilltop paradise.
Cutting down a tree is a nerve-wracking adventure. These aren't mighty redwoods, just ordinary ponderosa pine, mostly, with some Douglas and silver firs tossed in the mix. But they're big, and sometimes they fall in unusual ways; and by "unusual" I mean the exact opposite of where I expect them to fall.
It's dangerous, cutting down trees. Every time I fire up my chainsaw, in the back of my mind I'm asking the question: "Is this the tree that's gonna kill me?"
I come from a family of Polish lumberjacks (on my mother's side), several of whom met their end when the forest struck back in one way or another. So when I ask that question it's not to entertain morbid thoughts, but rather to remind myself to exercise as much caution as possible on a job that's full of risk.
It's a learning process. Each tree teaches a lesson. Sometimes the lesson is simple (cut a bigger wedge) and sometimes emphatic (park the tractor further away, Dummy).
But today, as I stand looking out over the four trees on my hill that I took down a few weeks ago, I am confronted with a mystery. Each trunk is at least twenty inches in diameter and rises high above the field grass. I stare down at the largest trunk, trying to put into words this most pressing of mysteries, and the most succinct question turns out to be:
"Who laid a log on my log?"