This morning at fire camp: I was eating breakfast – fried eggs, hash browns smothered in salsa, and chicken fried steak and gravy sprinkled generously with tobasco over everything washed down with chocolate milk. I ate it all. [Read more…]
About The Author
Since I am both a man of faith and a firefighter, and I love to write on both subjects, I have decided to do just that. MarcOnFire, my chosen site handle, can apply to both equally well and I like the idea. As I accumulate years and wisdom, I find myself pondering God even more than ever. I get a lot of personal satisfaction from reflecting on all I have learned about life and trying to guess the big picture from Godly perspective. Basically I have discovered that 1) God is Love, 2) People like to speak for God, and 3) the two are not equal but often become opposing concepts. I am a religious warrior rebel on a mission of discovery.
The rugged lifestyle of logger/firefighter is my proving ground for my religious discoveries as I find I am linked with my Heavenly Father in all I do. I tie it all together a bit at a time as I observe and ponder.
I think it will be fun to expound on religious subjects with pithy logger style logic.
When I was just out of high school, I went to work in the woods with my Dad falling timber. We went to work for a tough old felling contractor Tom Williams, a friend of Dad’s who agreed to pay me the high wage of $75 per day and furnished an old clunky chainsaw for me to learn on.
Tom treated me with a lot of respect, which was heady stuff for a teenager, but maybe was because he had a lot of respect for Dad’s work. I spent a year and a half working with my Dad, being “broken in” or trained as a bucker, which is the job of cutting trees into lengths that can be hauled easily. This was a dangerous job because of the weight of the timber and the steep ground (up to and sometimes over 70% slopes). When you cut a log loose, you had to know what it was going to do, so that you were not in the way of where it was going. Dad was serious about teaching me safety, and so I worked for about 15 yrs without getting hurt, which was a pretty good record.
After we worked for Tom we went to work for a gyppo logger on Weyerhauser ground out of Sweet Home. A Gyppo was an independent logger who logged for many different companies, usually with older equipment. Sometimes the term was used by company men as an insult. I, however was proud to be independent and work hard for my pay. Dad had known this logger from before and we had gotten the cutting contract in part because of his reputation with this logger.
We were working in the biggest timber I ever worked in. The biggest tree we fell was over 9′ inside the bark. After I had finished cutting the tree into several 8′ sections and a few 16′ pieces, we were standing on the landing with the logger, and the logger said it looked like a sideways stack of silver dollar bills. The old loggers were full of sayings like that which sounded really cool to my teenage ears.
The ground was choppy and somewhat steep, full of ravines. It was a real challenge to get the valuable timber on the ground without breaking it up into toothpicks, but Dad was an artist at “saving” timber. I learned to buck logs on some pretty dangerous ground with the biggest timber I ever cut.
Dad and I drove from Oakridge to Vida via back roads and then over mountains on logging roads to the job near Sweet Home. It took over an hour and a half to get to work. We were on the saw cutting timber shortly after daybreak, so I was one sleepy kid during the ride. Dad, however liked to talk, so I learned to answer back while dozing, not really paying attention to what was being said. It seemed to keep Dad happy. Dad was one of those guys who demanded a response when he talked. We got along quite well while working together, in spite of being related. I think it was because he got more respect from the surly young kid, and I did good enough that he laid on some good, well meant praise. It was probably a relief to see I really wasn’t a total lazy slob kid who was a couch potatoe taking up permanent residence on his living room couch, as he had reason to suspect before I went to work. Actually I had a strategy of trying to get him to train me as he had discouraged me from going into the woods. I, however had done a little research into the job market, which was always somewhat of a depressed economy in the logging days it seemed, and I had discovered that there was a huge difference in mill pay and woods pay, so I really wanted to learn to fall timber.
A few years later, I was working for Tom Williams again in the old town of Wendling. I mean we were cutting second growth (or young) timber that couldn’t be over 70 yrs old, and right where the old mill town of Wendling had been, close to what is now Marcola. The trees averaged 22″ in diameter and over 100′ tall! I was single jacking, which meant I did both the felling and bucking by myself, and my partner, Bob Trantham was also single jacking a safe distance away, but near enough to hear my saw. If my saw was running, he assumed I was still alive. While working I came to a “snag” which is a dead tree. This one was a remnant of the previous generation of old growth timber and was over 4′ in diameter by about 40′ high, and totally rotten. It had to come down as it was a hazard to the loggers. OSHA (Oregon Safety beaurocracy) required all snags to be cut down. I put a big undercut in it, which is the notch you put in the tree to cause it to fall in the proper direction. You had to put great big undercuts in these stub snags because they didn’t have much lean to them. Then I back cut it to let it fall, but it just sat there. That is always a creepy feeling, because you have all these tons of weight just teetering there, not doing what you want it to. I put in a wedge, a high density wedge shape piece of plastic designed to “persuade” the balky tree in the way you want it to go. Well, the wood was so rotten, the wedge just got buried in the tree without forcing it over. My next option was to knock it over with another tree. This was definitely not an OSHA approved practice, but I had done it many times before without incident, so I went up the hill behind the snag, found an appropriate tree and fired away. It just brushed on by the slick, heavy snag without knocking it over. The same with the next and the next. I went up to the last tree I thought might possibly do it and began sawing on it. For some reason (I think it was God giving me a warning) I looked up to see the snag falling towards me.
It had come over backwards, falling opposite of where I wanted it to go, and looked like it was just a few feet above my head and coming fast. I started to lean away when it hit my left shoulder, tore off my shirt sleeve and knocked me flat. I couldn’t breathe, it had knocked my breath out, but I wasn’t hurt. I got up, inspected for damage, and all I had was this raw spot on my shoulder. That tree had hit me so hard it knocked me clear out of the way. I had a definite picture in my mind of me being like a delicate flower, easily crushed, having been just stepped on by life, and how fragile this life really is, so I said from my heart, “Thank you Lord!”. I heard back plainly, in my thoughts, “No problem, Son”. I believe God has a sense of humor.
Right then on that mountainside I was aware that I should have been dead, everything I was doing in my own ways had led to this, and I was alive only by God’s help. I told Him I was tired of being my own boss, I wanted to change and let Him rule my life. I call that moment in my life “sanctification” which term I picked up from old-time Pentecost and means that as a Christian you become more of God’s and less of your own. (If you’re not a Christian already, this is called Salvation.)
I promptly forgot my promise and slipped back into running things by my own intellect, but things were different between me and God after that and He reminded me of my promise later.
“His yoke is easy and His burden is light.” King James Bible, New Testament
Revenge of the Old Fallers
Two different faller boss styles
The old faller boss is ready to retire. He has a sense of humor that won’t quit. Some may frown on that, but he has that old guy get ‘er done mentality and the ability to do it.
For instance, my division leader ordered 4 sets of fallers, but there were no faller bosses, so we all sat around for a day. The next day they brought in Benhower, whom I call Ben Hur. My partner, Bennie calls him Boomhaur. He does not object to anything we do to the hapless feller, in fact he seems to appreciate it. In fact, I came up with the saying “who killed Bennie?” for a comedy line which Ben loved and also sparked a hilarious South Park routine from Russell. [Read more…]
Mother Nature Is Pissed Off
What is it with Mother Nature? Trouble is afoot. Floods, hurricanes, drought, El Nino, wild-fires, a tree-beetle epidemic, melting glaciers, tsunami, and I’m sure a volcano is about to blow…all symptoms of a distressed Mother Earth. What, you ask, could upset the fearsome Ma Nature like this, leading to such demonstrations of her terrible wrath? [Read more…]
Change Of Plans
Well, I got in late last night. We hiked in 1.5 miles to work on the west flank of the Warm Springs fire near Mt. Jefferson. We worked until 6 and then hiked back to the rigs, and then hauled tents and camping supplies up a trail several hundred yards and set up a spike camp just before dark. The wind was blowing strongly and the camp was in some trees. To get there we had to walk through a bunch of burning trees. [Read more…]