I think this is what freedom feels like. For me, anyway. The air is cool and crisp. I can hear geese honking as they look for a place to settle in for the night. Someone’s cow is lowing. Kids way down the street are playing. Otherwise, it’s just me, this log, and my spud.
There is a release. Feeling like I’m breaking some shackles of society off of me. I’m becoming my own person. Cell phones don’t matter, gas mileage isn’t a concern. I don’t think about yesterday, and tomorrow is too far away to plan for. I feel grateful to God this tree was available for my use. I’m trying very hard not to waste it. It’s sacred- it was a living thing, and I killed it. I had to. And killing it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think a lot about the scene in the movie “The last of the Mohicans” where the Indian shoots the deer, and then, while collecting his kill, thanks the Great Spirit and the deer for giving its life so he could eat. In our modern world – full of earth-worshipping pagans, who hypocritically fly around the country in their private jets giving speeches about how global warming is going to destroy the earth, while spending weekends in one of their many beachside mansions, the simple things like gratitude for all life- plant or animal is glaringly absent. But for me? I’m using this tree to build a home for my family- that’s sacred to me. This home will be the place for family get-togethers- hopefully, for generations. I’m the pioneer to my descendants. What kind of folklore and stories will they share about their ancestors- Brian and Julie- who did this strange thing called “building their own home”?
It feels weird to talk about a tree that way. Most of the time when you build a house -I know: MOST people don’t build houses- but most of the time, you go into the lumber store and buy a load of 2×4’s to build a house. They don’t even look like a tree, so nobody gives two cents about a 2×4. This is how we become disconnected from our environment. But building a log home is different- this tree has character. There are knots and stubs where the branches used to be. I can see a little twist in the grain here and there where the tree tried to push it’s way towards sunlight- trying to beat out another tree that was also pushing towards the same thing. The growth rings show that over the last 20+ years, there were some dry and wet summers, and some dry and wet winters. None of these things are visible in a 2×4- or if they are, you don’t get the complete picture. We are not as connected to nature as we used to be. But we do a great job at being connected to our social media. I think some of our society’s health problems start with our lack of connection to our environment. We don’t go barefoot because it’s dangerous. We wear seat belts because it makes us safer. We don’t stay out late at night and watch stars because we have streetlights that block them out because our neighborhoods are dangerous, and streetlights make them safer. Safe, safe, safe: everything is about safety (and being politically correct), and nothing is about freedom. Freedom means danger. Freedom possibly means failure. I get it. But freedom also means fresh air, blisters, and pine needles.
Peeling a tree to use in a home is about as close to living naturally as I can imagine. The only thing closer to nature would be living in a cave, I suppose. The bark is thick, rough and unforgiving on the outside. The inside layer is slippery, wet, and smoother than glass. It feels good to be this kind of sore.
My hands hurt, but they’ll heal up soon. I figure I can do one tree every night, and six on the weekend, that’s 11. Maybe I can get it done in a month if I learn how to go faster. For now, one down, 71 to go. For the walls, that is. Then there’s the garage. And the porch. And the floorboards. And the roof. And the joists. And the inside walls. And the stairs. And the…..