What a beautiful day! Yeah, so this blogger didn't put up enough firewood for a six month winter. Got the saw overhauled in February and it's running like a champ. The goddess usually goes along lest blogger, ex-logger, drops one on the truck or himself. She loves walking back to town accompanied by her intrepid, but sometimes gimpy French mountain dog.
Up Sunnyside we go, enough ice-melt running to stay out of the tracks and driving on the stubborn ice so as not to tear up the Forest Service road. The branches and tops of trees felled by lazier locals litter the sides of the two-track. Saw chips packed into the hardpan will produce Shaggy Manes in less than a month.
About half-way up we stop at the spring to fill the water jugs; the smell of earth wafts from the hillside where the splashes of liquid life have carved out a small pool.
The terrain begins to flatten into a favorite meadow that will be awash in wildflowers about the time the mushrooms pop.
That's when you see the stands of dead trees. Acres and acres. If you go all the way to the top of the ridge it reveals square mile after square mile, mountaintop to mountain top. Lodgepole mostly, killed by the pine bark beetle some of it interspersed with Douglas fir many killed by the spruce bud worm.
We back the truck, my trusty '92 S-10 (Saloon No. 10 edition adorned with a magnet i won with four of a kind probably playing against Newland a million years ago) up an ice-packed skidder trail where a good sawyer can damned near put the tree right in the bed (i've done it; it's not pretty). Two will fill the old fart so i wow the goddess with my woodsmanship by adroitly dropping a couple beside the road.
She watches for a few minutes so her aging companion doesn't slip and cut his groin open with the chainsaw; then after a hug and a water bottle she and the little four-legged head down the trail.
After both trees are bucked to length it's customary for a smoke break. Two times at bat always makes my back feel way better. Then, like a vision from Powwow Highway, a figure appeared.
He wasn't young or old, he was kind of timeless.
"Hey, how's it goin'?" i asked as he walked up.
"What planet is this?" he asked.
"Well, Earth, actually. Montana, USA," i said.
He tilted his head and looked at the pine trees then said, "Weird. This was all aspen last time I was here."
i laughed. "That had to have been two hundred years ago, anyway."
He looked at me quizzically then said, "Well, two thousand, more like it. It's coming back to me now. Partied my ass off and passed out in a crystal cavern heated by hot springs on the other side of that mountain."
i had another bat.
"i'm Larry," i said, then held out my hand. "You?"
"Jesus," He replied. He pronounced it, "Hey Zeus." His handshake felt like a mug full of hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps.
"i thought it was three days, not two thousand years," i mused.
"Well, when yer ageless, it all kinda runs together," He said matter-of-factly. "What's in the pipa?"
"Meds," i said. "Need one?"
"I'm good," He replied. "What happened here and why the little truck?" He asked gesturing to the dead trees then to my pony.
"Jeez," i said, "oops, no offense. Well, two white guys named Lewis and Clark surveyed all this after the United States bought it from France who stole it from the Indians. Then about a hundred and twenty years ago white guys from Ireland, England, and Germany killed all the buffalo, put the Indians they didn't kill into internment camps, then came in here and clear cut all the virgin timber for mine supports and buildings, and let cattle come in here to eat all the aspen shoots. Want me to go on? And never tell a man he has a little truck."
He fumbled with his beard. "Yeah sure, I'm not really due back here yet, got a meeting on one of the moons of Uranus in a little bit; but go on."
i continued, "anyway, so the Forest Service was created to manage all this as a big farm. They suppressed fire and sprayed DDT into the waterways until a book came out in 1962 describing a world where humanity is poisoning the planet. Your planet right?"
i coulda sworn he looked at His watch: "My dad's, well, Mom's really, Dad's the builder, Mom's the owner."
i ploughed on. "Well, war broke out in southeast Asia and people began wondering whether the world was going to Helena in a hand basket then realized something had to be done about preserving the finite resources. Lawsuits got filed stopping logging operations, the housing bubble popped so all this maladapted forest grew like weeds killing the historic habitat."
He shook his head. "Hey, gotta go. Look, you assholes better do something about getting all this shit fixed. I'll be back in 2063 with the Vulcans over by Bozeman to witness Zefram Cochrane breaking the warp barrier. Don't fuck with the time line by killing yourselves before I get back or there'll be Hell to pay. Get it?"
i nodded and then He was gone. i loaded the truck, got back to town, put the wood in the shed, then wrote this story just in case anybody reads this blog.
Let's see: what is Zefram gonna need