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The Mighty Lumberjack

Edmond P. DeRousse July 3, 2019 at 9:42 am

  This is the story of a “Want-To-Be” lumberjack

 

Shawn was hosting the Super Bowl party in his cabin. I had agreed to help him prepare. Lots of work had to be done before the guys showed up for the party. We were planning to arrive at the cabin by mid-morning, Saturday.  But stuff always seems to happen. The cabin is two hours away and by the time we got there, it was full dark.

Shawn wanted to have a fire going in his fireplace and there were no logs. That meant some trees had to be cut. Shawn brought his chainsaw for just that purpose. I was looking forward to bonding with it.  After all, what male doesn’t like to bond with a chainsaw?

My buddy wanted us up around 6:00 a.m. When we finally awoke, it was 8:00 a.m.  Lots of work had to be done before the Super Bowl party and we just got a late start at it. We ate a light breakfast, headed out the door, gassed up the chainsaw, and headed for the future fireplace logs.

One might expect that it would be difficult to work outdoors in winter. I personally do not enjoy working in the cold. The Super Bowl takes place in early February and in Southern Illinois you never know what the weather will be like. This year, we were expecting fifty-degree temperatures. Because of the high temperature, I figured I might even work up a sweat.

Shawn insisted, though, that the night would be cold and the heat from his fireplace would be needed. I think it was just an excuse to have his buddy cut his firewood.

In reality, it didn’t really make any difference to me. I don’t have many opportunities to do this kind of physical activity. I was looking forward to exhibiting my lumberjacking skills.

A chainsaw, obviously a required tool for a lumberjack such as myself, is one of those things most men believe they instinctively know how to handle. I was no exception. “Start ‘er up” and cut down the tree. How hard is that?

Shawn tried to warn me about the difficulty, and about pacing myself; but, sometimes I don’t listen.

Shawn had previously marked several trees he deemed appropriate to sacrifice to the fire Gods. They weren’t big trees, only about three or four inches in diameter. After a couple hours, I had downed them all and was cutting them into the proper lengths. He said he wanted them to be eighteen inches in length. Shawn did not say about, he said eighteen inches. I thought it strange, he was so specific. I was not issued any kind of measuring stick, so he was going to get the approximate size.

If my friend was around, I didn’t really know. I was having too much fun with the chainsaw to pay any attention to him. I was a mighty lumberjack, after all.

My assignment, as I saw it, was “saw it down, cut it up, then stack them in a pile.” My buddy’s responsibility was to pick up the logs, throw them in a wheelbarrow, push them to the cabin, and then stack them up against the cabin wall.

Shawn is about ten years younger than me, so I figured he was better suited for the sustained heavy lifting. I had stacked logs before. They get heavier the more you stack. I was so excited, though, about using the chainsaw, I couldn’t think beyond the moment. The chainsaw didn’t seem that heavy when I first picked it up.

After about forty-five minutes of emulating a lumberjack, I realized I needed a break. I sat down on a stump and took one.

I just couldn’t help it. I thought I was done with it. I was confident the daylight hours would erase the bad dream about the giant man-eating spider from the night before. I am not prone to bad dreams, but the Arachnophobia movie and the beer Shawn and I consumed the night before certainly must have contributed to it.

But there it was. A reminder. A Daddy long legs. Fortunately, though, I was awake, and I just silently laughed.

It was mid-afternoon before Shawn deemed the chainsaw work was complete. Not that I was counting, mind you, but it seemed like I cut down and cut up a couple dozen trees. Some of them, though, may not have been marked. Once Shawn called an end to the chainsaw work, we had just enough time to clean up and relax a bit before the rest of the guys showed up for the party.

The cabin had one shower and Shawn gave me the privilege of using it first. It sure felt good. My sixty-year-old body was more tired than I thought. I was quite relaxed after the shower. I told Shawn I was going to take a short nap on his couch and then help him get the stuff ready for the guys. Shawn agreed and headed for his shower.

I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes……

I awoke to the excited sounds of “GO! GO! GO!” Our Super Bowl party had started. The guys had already gathered around the big screen TV. I honestly think Shawn tried to keep everyone quiet, but in a room full of men watching the biggest game of the football season, it wasn’t going to happen.

Jim, the first of the group to speak to me, said something like, “Glad you decided to join us. We thought you died. Shawn told us he thought maybe with all the trees you cut down today, you had a heart attack. But we weren’t going to let that stop us from enjoying the game. You could wait until after it’s over. It‘s a matter of priorities, you know.”

Some friends they are?

Apparently, Shawn thought this “old man” had done more than he was capable of and went ahead and got things ready by himself.

I would never admit it, but I was glad he did.

Why is the super bowl played on a Sunday evening? It usually ends after 10:00 p.m and the parties continue on for some time afterwards. Then you drive home. But for the party host the night is even longer.

Fortunately, Shawn and I both took the following Monday off. We had to clean up. He and his wife were planning to spend the next week here in the cabin.

I think we got to sleep about two in the morning. Shawn had to be back at his real house by ten. That meant we had to get up by six and on the road by seven. We planned to stop at a Mickey Dees on the way back.

By eight A. M. I was feeling about ninety years old. My back and neck had tightened up so much I was barely able to move. My chiropractor was definitely going to see me that day. I grabbed my cell phone and called my wife to tell her to call Dr. Simpson. Of course, I had to endure her razzing, but she could tell how badly I felt, so she did not dwell on it too much.

Shawn and I finally arrived at his house. My buddy helped me into my car and off I went. According to my wife, the first stop would be to see the chiropractor. That would be another hour away and I was already very uncomfortable.

When I arrived at Dr. Simpson’s office, his assistant, Judy, led me straight into the room where the waterbed is. That is a wonderful device. You lay on your back, while the rollers move up and down your spine. That part of the treatment last about ten minutes. Boy, it always feels good.

But this day was different. Getting onto it was not easy. The old back was not very cooperative. With much effort, I finally got horizontal. Judy set the timer for ten minutes and then left the room. A few minutes later I happen to look over to wall on my right and saw it.

A huge black spider.

These things are supposed to be in places that are not cleaned on a regular basis. This was a doctor’s office. They are cleaned regularly. If not, someone would shut them down.

Yet there it was.

I started watching it, hoping it would stay where it was. Maybe it was not alive. But then I noticed it moving, ever so slightly.

What was it doing?

It seemed to be getting closer to me somehow.

“Did it have wings?” “ Nope! It’s moving to slow for that.”

“What a minute! Is that a web I see?” “It is.”

“I need to let Judy know about the spider when she come in. Wouldn’t be good for other patients to see it.”

“Wait a minute! That thing’s getting’ closer! I hurt way too much to have to get out of this bed quickly, if it decides to jump on me. Hurry up, timer! Turn off. I don’t want to have to jump out of this bed.”

I watched that spider weave its web. It seemed to be getting closer and closer to me. I remember giving some thought to reaching down to the side of the bed and turning off the timer. Judy would hear the timer click off. Then she would come in. I would tell her about the spider, and she would get rid of it.

But I thought turning off the timer early, might break it and then I would have to buy Doc a new bed. That would be expensive. So, I decided to watch the spider a little bit longer. The time had to be about up anyway. At the rate the spider was weaving its web, I calculated it would take another ten or fifteen minutes for the spider to reach my face.  I’d be out of the room by then.

Just to be sure, I continued to watch the big black spider.

The timer finally clicked off and Judy came in. Immediately, I pointed to the location of that obnoxious creature on the wall and told her about the spider.

She looked confused. “What spider?”

I pointed again.

“That’s not a spider you’re pointing at. That’s a nail. We had a picture hanging there last week.”

I looked at that spot again. Sure enough, it WAS a nail.

Before I could offer an excuse, Judy had a response.

“Pete, I’d sure like to have some of those drugs you’re on.”

In retrospect, I can certainly understand why she thought I was hallucinating.

“I told you I was hurting.”, I said. “I guess my old body was trying to tell me I did too much yesterday.”

We both chuckled about it.

I told Dr. Simpson about his big black spider. Like Judy, he was confused. But I enlightened him. He laughed and warned me not to overdo in the future.

By the way, Shawn told me he made frequent trips to his cabin and has used his fireplace many times. He has yet to cut anymore wood for it.

All in all, I sure had fun on that Super Bowl weekend. And my friends don’t let me forget it. Neither does Dr. Simpson.

 

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