Raw Log Exports, he thinks to himself. At first a foreign notion, the idea has taken root in Mr. Bunyan’s worry-rattled mind. Reaching for a young spruce sapling with which to scratch his chin (and finding none, a subconscious habit, this, from a grander time in his life), he turns the phrase over again, draws out the syllables and voices them slowly, firmly closing about each word with greater definition, greater gravity. Making these words serious, making them his, making them True. And Right, and Good.
Raw. Log. Exports.
Long ago, he had never needed to mind the market. He had stepped into Real America and a clarity of purpose lay forested out before him. But now… now it was all economy of scale this and softwood lumber that… and adapting to new market realities – that’s what they called it (!) And it makes him shiver, there in the cab of his truck, with the heat cranked and the engine running, in the empty shanty town yard. Chantier.
The palms of his hands – work hands that once grappled giants, drew milk from whales, leveled the forests of Iowa, of Kansas – the palms of his hands are now soft.
The Board was on board, the seed having been sewn by VP Development (Ford was his name… and to think, once a bully logger! So long ago was that time, and is it not this same Ford who had introduced the 10 hour work day, whose mechanical donkeys had been the end of his beloved Babe, this bunkhouse genius and complainer… when had he been promoted anyway?)
He will need to think more on this, this new notion of progress.
The snow is falling again, it is falling blue, and now he is remembering a different life than this one.
– – –
This and a few future blogs (I hope) are my attempts at a somewhat cryptic re-invention of Paul Bunyan, or Bonyenne… inspired by a purchase from a used bookstore in Bellingham, WA, some 20 years ago now. Paul Bunyan, by James Stevens, with Woodcuts by Allen Lewis. Penned in 1925, this compilation of short stories – or rather, tall tales I should say – stands for me as a splendid work of contemporary parody, only it was written 87 years ago… so what’s that, prescient parody? Whatever, it works for me.
Quiet turns of sad beauty among the yellowed pages (but maybe that’s just me…)
“And Paul Bunyan, the supreme inventor, the noble historian, the master orator, the grand field marshal of industry, mused in sad resignation on the vanity of man’s enterprises. The logging industry, which he had invented, would go on as long as trees grew from the earth, and his name would be heard forever on the tongues of men. he would have power, but it would be only the power of a vast spirit breathing in the dark, deep woods…”
Click here for Part 2.