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Grumpy Old Ganz

The Hatchet

Please keep in mind while reading this editorial I was just a young lad at the time so my memory of this event and the actual timeline may be skewed a bit.

Oftentimes my Dad would head out to the woods to cut firewood for the wood furnace on the farm. I always wanted to help, but due to my age and size, my help wasn’t needed. It usually ended up being more of a babysitting job for him if I did tag along.

When I did get the chance to accompany him, being the good Father that he was, to keep me occupied and out of harm's way, he would send me off elsewhere on another task. One time I recall him pointing toward a tree and telling me to go chop it down. He handed me a “big boy axe” and off I went.

I spent weeks with my axe chopping at the same tree. I truly thought I had the experience of a true lumberjack and woodsman, and my tree looked to be taking shape and like it was ready to fall.

Eventually, the task came to an end and it seemed I had only inches left to complete the job of cutting down my first tree.

Not wanting to give up, I pushed and pushed on the tree while Dad just chuckled. To give my confidence a boost he also “helped” push. The tree did not budge and he said it would just have to wait until later.

This tree became my “White Whale”. I kept an eye on it every time we went to get the cows, went out hunting, or were collecting firewood.

The following spring I got the surprise of a lifetime. I saw the tree had fallen down. I was so proud!

Later, in my teen years, I asked about that tree and unbeknownst to me, a windstorm had blown it over, not my weeks of hard work. Dad, grinning, said he was surprised I even got the bark off that oak tree.

I still have that hatchet (my big boy axe) to this day and seeing the edge on it I truly believe getting the bark off that ole tree was truly an accomplishment!


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