Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Few More Thoughts On "The Golden Spruce," by John Vaillant

The following passage in "The Golden Spruce," by John Vaillant is poignant. It could be argued that the following mentality is what has given us all the comforts in life that we enjoy today. The question must be asked whether or not we, as humans on this earth, can continue this state of mind and still thrive on this planet:

     Even Bill Weber, who has only been working in the woods since the late 1970's, expressed astonishment: "I never dreamed the old growth would be finished," he said. Much of the wood he is cutting today would have been scoffed at by his parent's generation. "Twenty years ago, we'd have looked at the wood we're into now and say, 'What the hell are we doing in this shit?'"
     One of Weber's colleagues, Earl Einarson, a fifty four year old tree faller, expressed the logger's conundrum as honestly as anyone. "I love this job," he explained, gesturing toward the wild chaos of the old growth forest he was in the process of leveling. "It's a challenge to walk into a mess like this and get it looking civilized." (This child of the atomic age would have won a sympathetic nod from any seventeenth-century settler.) Einarson paused for a moment and Weber, his supervisor, looked over his last falling cut while a big glossy raven lighted on a nearby branch that would no longer be there in another twenty-four hours. A hundred yards away, an unknown and unnamed waterfall tumbled seventy-five feet into a shimmering pool. Einarson had seen elk pass through the day before, his partner noted the apparent decrease in deer and speculated that it was due to predation by wolves and cougars, both of which are abundant here. Einarson picked up his train of thought: "Another reason I like falling," he said, "is I like walking around in old growth forests. It's kind of an oxymoron, I guess-to like something and then go out and kill it." Like a hundred generations of forest dwellers before him, Einarson is also a hunter and a mushroom picker, and in the end he compared his work to hunting: "I've tried taking pictures (of animals), but it's not quite the same because you're not part of it."

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