On my drive to the sanctuary, a blockaded bridge forced a long detour along country roads. It was a cold and bright Sunday morning in late October and I lowered the window to listen to the country.
For miles and miles, I heard almost nothing but chainsawing and saw men and women everywhere cutting up firewood and falling trees, dead and alive.
Is this the sound of the country? I pondered that question.
I was anxious to reach the sanctuary. Jacque had said it was okay for Bonnie to join Clyde and me provided I kept her on a leash and didn’t allow any running. It was the best news I’d heard in six months.
The duo barked up a maelstrom when I pulled into the parking lot. I loaded up with treats, got my emergency leash out of the trunk, unlatched the gate, hooked up Bonnie, distributed treats, and we were off to the river.
Sun lit up the pasture. Fresh elk scat steamed in the grass. A few dandelions tilted at attention. Clyde picked up the pace and started to lope. Bonnie caught his drift and pulled at the leash. I slowed down and cajoled a snail’s pace with treats and special instructions. They understood, they’d read Steinbeck. I was talking dog talk to the dogs. I think I almost prefer that language these days. It is a language blissfully without jargon.
I heard a chainsaw in the distance, then another, then another. It was a crew. The hills were alive with the sound of chainsawing for profit. This was a mini logging operation, a mini massacre, not a grandma in tight Wranglers slicing up alder branches after a windstorm.
We reached the river and I heard more chainsaws downstream. The whole world seemed to be chainsawing. Doesn’t anyone in rural Oregon go to church anymore?
I decided to make use of the sound and cut up a cordwood of thoughts:
- Donald Trump took a chainsaw to American democracy, civility and compassion. He unleashed the grinding jagged teeth, the gasoline, the roaring noise, the erosion, the mud, the slash piles, the fires, the smoke. He polluted the very ground where he stood and cut. Woodland creatures became refugees. Baby birds died in their nests.
- I once saw and old woman in Reedsport carving a statue of a naked Donald Trump from a Douglass fir log. She gave him a microscopic penis.
- I’ve wielded a chainsaw many times in my life, cutting firewood, and never cared for the experience.
- Chainsaws were invented in America and seem a perfect metaphor for many aspects of American culture.
- A judicial chainsaw severed my constitutional rights. I used one to cut away the deadwood of ego and self aggrandizement.
- I used to wield a chainsaw with my writing. Not anymore. I’m wielding the crosscut saw these days, but I could use someone on the other end of the saw.
- The sanctuary is the opposite of a chainsaw. The sound of dogs is the antithesis of the sound of a chainsawing.
- Has anyone written a poem or country song about chainsawing?
- The word used to describe what an army of chainsaws financed by far flung corporations does to forests in Oregon, clearcut, is the wrong descriptor. It sounds too pretty. It has alliteration.
- I wrote a short story about a clearcut. I once had a special relationship with a clearcut. I once took dates to a clearcut. I once ran my three dogs in that clearcut.
- I once knew a female poet who wrote a poem about the evil of clearcuts but she had never seen one up close, walked through the scorched earth. It was a fake poem for many reasons but primarily because there was no onomatopoeia of the chainsaws in it.
- Can you create a positive metaphor with a chainsaw? I will try: my adventures with Bonnie and Clyde chainsawed open something entirely new in my creative mind and you are reading the results of that.
- Man chainsaws a forest to death, no story. Dogs chainsaw a man back to life, a story, my story.
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