As a teenager, I used to lumberjack cedar on the weekends and holidays with my dad for the old cedar mill during the winter. It was the only time you could get into the cedar swamp on the north end of the reservation, that swamp being just before the reservation boundary, because the ground would freeze enough to be able to drive a truck over it.
In the swamp, the accumulated snow was two to three feet thick. It was always so quiet there. (When the chainsaw and tractor weren’t running)
We always watched for deer on the way in and the way out. Keeping the .270 handy in case we happened upon one or more out in the open in a meadow or rounding a corner.
The access road was winding, like an old river because we didn’t have a ‘dozer to push stumps, or other obstructions out of the way, so we had to drive around them. It had dips and bumps as well because we relied on the pickup truck tires and accompanying loads of cedar to compact the snow and that was it. You had to drive slowly because you could break an axle or a spring as the truck bounced up and down and back and forth, so it often took us a half an hour to get from the tar road to our logging site–which otherwise would have been maybe 10 minutes if we had a level, straight road.
It was particularly peaceful when the snow drifted down.
It was cold too. The temperature could sometimes reach 40 below; still-cold, no windchill. If the wind kicked up, we called it a day because then it got to be too cold.
The best times were eating lunch together or at the end of the day. We would turn off the tractor and chainsaw and sit and feed bread or cracker crumbs to the “lumberjacks” (Grey-crested titmice) or Chickadees that came looking for food . Pop would quietly sit and pour some of his steaming coffee into the red plastic cup that otherwise capped his thermos and sip it, while I sipped from my bottle of cold, cold well water. Sometimes we would eat peanut-butter and jelly, egg, or Baloney-and-Wonderbread sandwiches, depending on the mood mom was in when she or we made them beforehand.Dad would admonish me that if we sat quietly and didn’t make any sudden movements, the deer would start to come in, a short while after we turned off the tractor and chainsaw for lunch. At first they were like apparitions appearing out of the gloom on the periphery of our sight. Movement being the only thing alerting us to their presence. They would wind their way in, gradually resolving into real deer as they occasionally stopped to nuzzle the snow or nibble on cedar bark as they kept a watchful eye on us.
Hm. Maybe this isn’t so much about the deer as about me and my dad.