I strode out this morning across field and lane carrying nowt but lunch box and axe. At the woods I joined my work fellows and we struck a fire first thing. Fairly soon wood chips where flying and the thud of axe strikes resounded through the wood, thickening the blanket of silence around us. A timeless quality imbued the scene. The brutal reality of a razor sharp cold lump of steel on a stick. Why is that so appealing? There’s no escaping it, it’s a primal experience to pit your body weight and your sweat against the might of a huge tree towering above you. You huff and puff, grunt and curse but there is a timeless poetry as the axe swings through the air bighting deep into the timber. It’s a giddy sensation when that tree finally yields and starts to move.
Then the chainsaws spluttered and growled into action. This was a workday at Stroud Community Woodland Coop. I’d like to think that those of us axing that day had more fun than those chains awing but it’s probably not true. However we reveled in our less-productive shared adventure. My three cohorts had no idea they might be felling a tree together today as they had no experience, skills or training and assumed that woodland work was for the certified chainsaw users only. As the light started to receded I lifted my axe and ducked out of the wood to stroll home cross-country. Time maybe to explore a new route home, a perfect day from a time gone by.