I built this old wood shed as a raccoon pen, but Harvey sent his raccoons to live somewhere else–a good thing, probably, as the raccoons will have fared better, I fared better for not having raccoons to care for, and I now had a covered place for my wood stove firewood supply, all cut with a Husqvarna chain saw Reza lent me before he died, and spit and stacked with my children (see the photos after the poem). That chain saw was complicated to keep running well and sharp, but I managed, and even taught my sons to use it, until I had to leave home. And now the youngest must learn on his own, over the phone, and with his own considerable smarts. I wrote this poem after yesterday’s phone call from Hyrum.
Starting the Old Chain Saw
Well, first you move the blue
lever forward (that’s the choke) then push-
squeeze the clear bulb
five times or so (you’ll see it fill with fuel)
to prime the motor,
and now you’re ready to pull the chord, but,
of course, you need fresh fuel in the tank
(old gas has water in it, and the motor won’t run with water in the gas)
and don’t forget the bar chain oil to cool and grease the chain.
Is the chain loose? The chain can’t be so tight
it binds on the bar, nor falling off neither,
but just loose enough. Pull and pull that chord,
and when the motor starts to putter,
ease that choke back and let that motor purr.
Ease that blade into that old cottonwood,
rock your way right on through.
You’ll know the blade is sharp if the sawdust flies in flakes;
powder means it’s dull.
I’m sorry I can’t be there to help you, son,
but I know you will figure things out:
you will cut the wood of your life,
make beautiful things,
I will watch, and see.
And here are my children, splitting all that wood we cut in September 2015 and filling the wood shed.
Roger Baker is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road. The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human heart. The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.