Into the Winter Woods

Long-johns top and bottom, heavy socks, flannel shirt, overalls,
steel-toed work boots, sweater, canvas coat, toque, mittens: on.

Out past grape arbor and garden shed, into the woods.
Sun just coming through the trees. There really is such a thing

as Homer’s rosy-fingered dawn. And here it is, this morning.
Down hill, across brook, up hill, and into the stand of white pine

and red maple where I’m cutting firewood. Open up workbox,
take out chain saw, gas, bar oil, kneel down, gas up saw, add

bar oil to the reservoir, stand up, mittens off, strap on and buckle
chaps from waist to toe, hard hat helmet: on. Ear protectors: down,

face screen: down, push in compression release, pull out choke,
pull on starter cord, once, twice, go. Stall. Pull out choke, pull on

starter cord, once, twice, go. Push in choke. Mittens: back on.
Cloud of two-cycle exhaust smoke wafting into the morning air

and I, looking like a medieval Japanese warrior, wade through
blue smoke, knee-deep snow, revving the chain saw as I go,

headed for that doomed, unknowing maple tree.

From Happy Life by David Budbill, 2011.

6 thoughts on “Into the Winter Woods”

  1. I loved thinking this was your story, until getting to the end and seeing the author’s name. But it could have been you, and I’m glad you shared it with us on this snowy day. <3

    1. Right Phil. I’m chaps averse. I have a pair of chainsaw chaps, but I always felt unsafe in them because I was always snagging on brush so after a little while I quit using them. Statistically it probably is safer to wear snag-prone chaps than to wear snag-proof work pants. But on a different level, I think I’m safer when I feel more confident and comfortable.

    1. I’m glad to get this in, but I really wish I could be further ahead on the firewood supply. This stuff is all green, so I think I’m going to need to buy some seasoned wood to finish out the winter. I’ve only got one cord of seasoned wood left.
      I agree with you on the chainsaw not quite working as well as in the poem. If this were a song, there would be a repeat sign on that pull on starter cord line.

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