This is good wood, and the land would grow it again in time, if we let it. But we don’t. This is the day of the chain saw and the four-wheel drive. The day of the old wood is past; soon the little that remains will find its way to hearths and stoves like yours.
We can grieve for these hard-used hills, for the soil that washed away and the grass that doesn’t grow. For the great gray stumps that rot in silence. And we can elegize the lives that hauled the wood and felt its warmth, lives that are ended, or ending.
For now let’s applaud the passing years, the good and the bad. Feliz cumpleaños, old man. It is a good day to be eighty, or any age.
The air is cool as the land warms towards noon. The blackbirds, towheees, and magpies sing in chorus. We pause by the wood, thinking on eighty years in harness. You rest a while, then go to fetch your splitting maul and wedge.