Raise your axe if you ever wanted to be a Scandinavian lumberjack. Not necessarily on a grand scale like some loggers featured in crime fiction books: deafening noise, tractors, heavy duty machinery, cutting a way through a dense ancient forest. Like in Will Dean’s Black River set in Sweden. More as a small project, or a way of life, to have enough wood for the winter, enjoying the process of getting your own resources, enjoying physical tiredness and mental peace. Feeling ready for the months of freezing cold, deep snow, dark nights AND warm cosy evenings in front of the fire.
Lars Mytting’s Norwegian Wood in Robert Fergusson’s translation published in 2015 was a huge hit. It dealt with the practical and mythical aspects of wood. I asked Santa for a copy of the book, and yes, I received it under a Christmas tree. Since then, MacLehose Press also published two incredible novels by Mytting: The Sixteen Trees of The Somme, and The Bell in The Lake which I’m currently reading.
Some time ago I had a chance to do some woodwork AKA hard work, after three pine trees had been felled down by a professional guy, all health and safety measure in place. Splitting logs and then stacking the smaller pieces on the pallets so they could dry for the next winter as the wind flows between them. It was nothing as meditative as axe-wielding and chopping newly fallen trees. The result was maybe less impressive than beautifully stacked logs created by real masters. Yet, the growing pile of logs of various shapes but of the same length of about 30cm, seemed magnificent. And very reassuring in a strange quiet way. Now the fresh wood is covered under a layer of fresh snow.
Have a look at some photos. As I was putting big logs into the cleaving machine (I am sure there’s a proper term for it) they were shooting off in two directions. The power of the blunt blade was enormous. Luckily, no damage was done to fingers, or toes for that matter, when halves of the heavy logs kept bouncing off the machine and then falling on the ground or the trailer supporting the whole operation. I feel proud of my new skill, and thrilled to see the history in the cut wood, the patterns grown from their past, the sparkles of frost, and the memory of trapped scent of the forest. Without a doubt it has been a calming experience.
You can buy the book via the following link: Norwegian Wood – MacLehosepress.com