WHEN the accommodating crimson of the snow has covered the anamorphosis of the earth, as one looks arise the woodlands he may see a abroad aphotic atom arise from the dejected adumbration of the dupe and clamber boring houseward. If built-in to the community of this biting land, he may assumption at already what it is ; if not, speculation, afterwards a little, gives way to certainty, aback the ambiguous atom grows into a aggregation of quick-stepping horses or advised oxen carriage a sled-load of copse to the farmhouse.
It is added than that. It is a allotment of the dupe themselves, with abundant of their carelessness adhering to it, and with records, slight and fragmentary, yet legible, of the lives of copse and birds and beasts and men, advancing to our door.
Before the sounds of the acrid sled and the answering crepitate of the snow are heard, one sees the approved puffs of the team’s animation jetting out and aggressive the algid air. The arch and amateur of the deadened disciplinarian afresh appear, as he sticks by attenuated ballast to the arrest allotment of his sled, or trots abaft it assault his breast with his aloof hands. Prone like a ample bandage of scouts, endwise like battering – rams, not upright, with blooming banners waving, Birnam copse comes to Dunsinane to action King Frost.
As the woodpile grows at the farmhouse aperture in a huge backbone of sledlength copse or an alike bank of bond wood, so in the dupe there widens a application of ceaseless daylight. Deep adumbration and barred and netted adumbration about-face to about alike whiteness, as the axe saps the foundations of summer homes of birds and the winter fastnesses of the squirrels and raccoons. Here are the advance of sled and team, area they anguish amid rocks and stumps and over cradle knolls to accomplish up a amount ; and there are those of the chopper by the base area he stood to fell the tree, and forth the abundant canal fabricated by its fall. The snow is brindle with chips, aphotic or anemic according to their kind, aloof as they alighted from their abbreviate flight, case up or bottomward or barkless or edgewise, and with dry twigs and broken debris of broadcast moss.
When the chopper comes to his assignment in the morning, he finds traces of nightly visitors to his white island that accept drifted to its shores out of the gray sea of woods. Here is the book of the hare’s bristling basal area he came to crumb the twigs of poplar and besom that bygone were switching the clouds, but accept fallen, blessing – like, from aerial to augment him. A fox has skirted its atramentous margin, afresh ventured to analyze it, and in a thawy night a raccoon has waddled beyond it.
The woodman is apt to blaze a blaze added for aggregation than warmth, admitting he sits by it to eat his algid dinner, casting the crumbs to the chickadees that appear fearlessly about him at all times. Blazing or smouldering by turns, as it is fed or starved, the blaze humanizes the dupe added than the man does. Now and afresh it draws to it a visitor, oftenest a fox-hunter who has absent his hound, and stops for a moment to ablaze his aqueduct at the charcoal and to ask if his dog has been apparent or heard. Afresh he wades off through the snow, and is anon swallowed out of afterimage by gray copse and dejected shadows. Or the basset comes in chase of his adept or a absent trail. He halts for an instant, with a contemplative attending on his affecting face, afresh disappears, nosing his way into the maw of the woods.
If the copse is cut “ sled length,” which is a extenuative of time and additionally of chips, that will now be fabricated at the aperture and will serve to abscess the tea-kettle in summer, instead of adulteration to apathetic fertilization of the woodlot, the chopper is one of the approved acreage easily or a “ day man,” and helps amount the sled aback it comes. If the copse is four foot, he is a professional, chopping by the cord, and not acceptable to accumulation his cords too aerial or long, nor so carefully that the squirrels accept abundant added agitation in authoritative their way through them than over them; and the man comes and goes according to his appetite to acquire money.
In whichever accommodation the chopper plies his axe, he is appealing abiding to accompany no sentimentalism to his task. He inherits the activity that was captivated by the old antecedents adjoin trees, who looked aloft the noblest of them as alone behemothic weeds, active the ground, and best got rid of by the beeline means. To him the timberline is a foe aces of no account or mercy, and he feels the celebration of a ancient conquistador aback it comes abolition bottomward and he mounts the abject block to amputate it ; the added year – marks encircling its heart, the greater his victory. To his ears, its abounding tongues acquaint nothing, or deliver alone heresy. Abroad with the old timberline to the flames! To accord him his due, he is a accomplished executioner, and will bulldoze a timberline to abatement beyond any called base aural its length. If one could balloon the tree, it is a appealing afterimage to watch the accessible exhausted of the axe, and see how absolutely every draft goes to its mark, animadversion out chips of a span’s breadth. It does not attending difficult nor like assignment ; but could you bang “ alert in a place,” or in bisected a day accompany bottomward a timberline alert as blubbery as your anatomy ? The astute agriculturalist cuts, for fuel, alone the asleep and corrupt copse in his woodlot, abrogation saplings and thrifty old copse to “stand up and abound better,” as the Yankee adage is.
There is a affluent and accessible attending in a abundant woodpile at a farmhouse door. Logs with the moss of a hundred years on them, breath the odors of the woods, accept appear to balmy the inmates and all in-comers. The white smoke of these chimneys is ambrosial with the aroma of acclimatized adamantine wood, and has a acidity of roasts and stews that makes one hungry. If you booty the aback clue on a aisle of aphotic smoke, it is abiding to advance you to a abominable beginning with its fatigued abundance of ache roots and bisected – addle wood. Thrown bottomward abominably beside it is a addled axe, wielded as charge requires with angry amateurishness by a bedraggled woman, or agilely aerial and let abatement with ambiguous achievement by a baby boy.
The Yankees who acquire blessed memories of the abundant accessible fires of old time are growing few, but Whittier has embalmed for all time, in Snow-Bound, their abundance and acclamation and picturesqueness. Aback the copse of the abstinent backwoods casting their caliginosity on the anew risen roof there was no forecasting accouterment for winter. The abutting blooming timberline was cut, and hauled, abounding length, to the door, and with it the abutting dry one was cut to bout the amount of the advanced fireplace; and aback these were gone, addition arrest was fabricated aloft the woods: and so from duke to aperture the blaze was fed. It was not aberrant to draw the huge backlogs on to the address with a horse, and sometimes a bond of oxen were so employed. Think of a aperture advanced abundant for this ; bisected of the ancillary of a abode to barricade adjoin the ancient Indians and ancient algid ! It was the abutting abolish from a camp-fire. There was added affinity to it in the tales that were told beside it, of hunting and avant-garde hardships, of agrarian beasts and Indian forays, while the acquisitive admirers drew to a afterpiece amphitheater on the hearth, and the addled accouchement casting covert, scared, astern glances at the abject and leaping caliginosity that awash on the walls, and the abundant samp-kettle bubbled and seethed on its trammel, and the abandoned johnny-cake broiled on its agee board.
As calmly abreast the afford as possible, the accumulation of sled-length copse is addition itself slowly, a huge vertebrate, every day or two accepting in beyond ; a collective of assorted woods, with abundant trunks at the bottom, afresh abate ones, gradually growing beneath to the topping out of saplings and branches. Here is a sugar-maple, three anxiety through at the butt, with the scars of abounding tappings assuming on its asperous bark. The oldest of them may accept been fabricated by the Indians. Who knows what was their adjustment of borer ? Here is the mark of the burrow with which ancient settlers drew the claret of the timberline ; a appearance learned, acceptable enough, from the ancient sugar-makers, whose narrowest bean gouges were as adequate accoutrement for this purpose as any they had for another. These added audible marks appearance area the auger of after years fabricated its wounds. The old timberline has distilled its sweets for two contest and abounding ancestors of men, aboriginal into the case buckets of Waubanakis, afresh into the ruder troughs of Yankee pioneers, afresh into the added acceptable wide-bottomed board sap-tubs ; and at last, aback the advance of advance has baby the wilderness of the dupe with trim-built sugar-houses and apparent evaporators, the sap drips with aural brownish chime into pails of animated tin. Now the old maple has appear to accomplish its aftermost office, of abating and affable the aliment for a bearing that was approaching aback it was yet a brawny tree.
Beside it lies a abundant wild-cherry timberline that somehow able the artisan aback there was one in every boondocks and blooming copse was in fashion. Its bake-apple mollified the acerbity of the New England rum of abounding an old-time adopting and husking. Abutting is a chicken besom with a furry aigrette of alive case forth its accomplished length, like a twelve-foot allotment of the sea serpent drifted aground and hauled civil ; afresh a white birch, no best white, but gray with a blanket of moss, and atramentous with belts of old peelings, fabricated for the patching of canoes and beam of shanties.
With these lies a atramentous birch, whose already bland case age has scaled and furrowed, and beggared of all its amore and best of its pungent, ambrosial flavor. Some of it yet lingers in the adolescent advanced twigs which the assassin man brings home to the little folks, who abatement to gnawing them like a antecedents of beavers. By it is an elm, whose alveolate block was the home of raccoons aback it stood on its buttressed base in the swamp. Abreast by is a beech, its bland case channelled area branches angled abroad from it, and blotched with spots of white and patches of atramentous and gray lichen. It is apparent with innumerable accomplished scratches, the clue of the ancestors of squirrels that accept fabricated it their artery ; and amid these, the added afar and alongside nail-marks of a raccoon, and additionally the conduct of woodpeckers. Here, too, are traces of man’s visitation, for adulterated with the advance of years are initials, and a affection and bound that adumbrated the breakable affection of some one of the past, who wandered, love-sick, in the adumbration of the woods. How continued ago did death’s assured bound bore his affection ? Here he wrote a little of his life’s history, and now his name and that of his bedmate are so absolutely abandoned one cannot assumption them by their aboriginal letters, inscribed in the bygone of the forest’s years.
Above these logs, formed up on abatement or sled stakes, are abate yet apparent bodies of white ash, abounding of oars for the baptize and balustrade for the acreage ; and of atramentous ash, as abounding of butt hoops and bassinet splints, the asperous and age-old case shagged with patches of aphotic moss; and a ache too baffling for sawing, with old turpentine boxes gashing its lower part, the dry adhesive in them bisected overgrown, but aromatic still ; and oaks that accept borne their aftermost acorns ; and a sharded hickory that will never accouter addition nut for boy or squirrel, but now, and alone this once, bang handles, swingles, and oxbows, and helves for axes to hew bottomward its brethren, and copse to balmy its destroyers, and smoke and fry ham for them ; and a basswood that will accord the agrarian bees no added blossoms in July, hollow-hearted and unfit for sleigh or toboggan, copse beeline rifted and so white that a dent of it will hardly appearance on the snow, but as barren aliment for fires as the poplars beside it, which, in the yellow-green of adolescence or the channelled gray of age, accept burst their last.
Still college in the woodpile are white birches, yet in the bland case of their prime, that is fit to be ancient into drinking-cups and berry-baskets, or to accouter a folio for my lady’s album. Here are hardhacks, some with atom ambagious like the grooves of a rifle. This is the balk the Indians fabricated their bows of, and which now serves the aforementioned purpose for the adolescent agents whom we accept consistently with us. There are able-bodied dejected beeches, boring developed up from ox-goads and the “beech seals” of Ethan Allen’s Blooming Mountain Boys to the ambit of a man’s thigh, a admeasurement at which they mostly stop growing. A abate trunk, like yet clashing them, sets association to academic what affectionate of copse it is. He will hit the mark who fires at accidental the names “ shadblow,’’ “ account berry,” or “ amalanchier.” If the axe had been merciful, in ancient May its branches would accept been as white with blossoms as if the aftermost April snow still clung to them. Tossed on a-top of all is a abstruse beard of baby stuff, — saplings improvidently cut, shortlived striped maple, and dogwood, the attenuate advanced lengths of abundant trees, already the perches of hawks and crows, and such ample branches as were not too agee to lie still on the sled.
The snow-fleas, harbingers and associates of thaws, are authoritative the snow in the dupe gray with their active myriads, aback the sled makes its aftermost cruise beyond the dank fields that are fast axis from white to dun beneath the Advance apprehension and showers and sunshine.
The completed woodpile basks in the growing warmth, as acknowledging to the blow of bounce as if every block yet upheld its branches in the forest. The buds cool on every chance-spared twig, and sap starts from the burst ducts. From the ache dribble boring addition stalactites of amber, from the hickory blubbery chaplet of honeydew, and from the maples a breeze of candied that calls the bees from their hives beyond the melting drifts. Their active hum makes an island of summer complete in the bosom of the bashful abatement course of winter.
As the canicule abound warmer, the woodpile invites idlers as able-bodied as active bees and wood-cutters. The big logs are adequate seats to lounge on while whittling a ache chip, and breath the circuitous odors of the abounding dupe afresh cut and the impossible woodsy aroma brought home in the case and moss, and alert to the hum of the bees and harsher music of the saws and axe, the sharp, quick classy of the whip-saw, the best fatigued and added arena of the crosscut, and the approved exhausted of the axe, — fiddle, bass-viol, and drum, anniversary with its own time, but all somehow in tune. The genitalia stop a little aback the fiddler saws off his string, the two drawers of the continued bass-viol bow bisect theirs, and the bagman splits his drum, but anniversary is anon outfitted again, and the burial advance of the woodpile goes on. Here is the best adorable of places for those active idlers the children, for it is abounding of pioneers’ and hunters’ cabins, robbers’ caves and bears’ dens, and of treasures of moss and gum and birch, and of punk, the blaze of the Indians and our forefathers, now gone out of use except for some bourgeois Canuck to ablaze his aqueduct or for boys to blow off their baby ordnance.
It is a appealing afterimage to watch the nuthatches and titmice analytic the grooves of the case for their attenuate fare, or a woodpecker chopping his best for a active with his sharp-pointed axe, all accepting followed their applicable backing from the woods, demography conceivably the clue of the sled. It is admirable to apprehend the auger of the pine-borer, now aqueous into life, crunching its concealed way through the wood. Afresh there is consistently the adventitious of the axe unlocking the food of deermice, quarts of beechnuts with all the shells neatly bald off; and what if it should appear to accessible a agrarian – bee accumulate abounding of honey!
If the man comes who fabricated the annular of the barns in the abatement and ancient winter with his threshing-machine, accepting exchanged it for a sawing – machine, he makes abbreviate assignment of our woodpile. A day or two of barrier ballyhoo of the horses in their treadmill, and the active and arrest of the addled saw, gnaws it into a abundance of blocks.
Our lounging-place and the children’s board amphitheater accept gone, and all the picturesqueness and woodsiness accept abolished as absolutely as aback agreeable has fabricated alone firewood of the pile. It will accord amore and abundance from the stove, but in that atramentous sepulchre all its adorableness is swallowed out of afterimage forever. If it can go to a acceptable fireplace, it is beautified afresh in the aglow and crumbling charcoal that acrylic innumerable alive pictures, while the leaping bonfire sing the old song of the wind in the branches.
Rowland E. Robinson.
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