Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Job & Knock
Down by a river near Pateley Bridge in North Yorkshire a thick frost covers every surface. The burbling water runs sharp and glistens like mercury. Feet in boots are cold as lead and the chickens are all standing on one leg at a time. Our youngest climber is in a tree - one Indian and four big chiefs watching from the ground. I encourage them to be patient with the boy and not hassle him too much. All around us are chickens who only seem to care about what they can scratch up from under the frozen grass. The pale sun hardly breathes a word and the ground stays stubbornly white all day.
We’re on a new job. Second day in and the talk is of how different things are; new guys we’ve not worked with before so the banter is comparing notes and swapping stories of big trees and the adventures we find in them. Arms are folded, we stamp the cold out of our feet and breathe puffs of steam into the stiff air.
The young lad up in the Alder knocks the last section out of the stem, it lands with a dull crump and bounces a lump of earth upward. He’s taken longer than a more experienced climber but that’s okay. We were all that boy once. It’s not a race; climb with your head and leave your ego on the ground. He’s cut everything as required, not damaged anything nor injured himself and that’s all we ever have to do.
He makes his way out the tree while the freshly cut wood is turning that pinky orange colour that Alder does where the saw has laid the light flesh bare to the world. The brash is chipped and the logs are left for the farmer; not all the logs - I like my share. Throw a few choice cuts in the back of the pick-up and bang to door shut as a gesture that says 'home time'. Job and knock.