Uncle Mike provides us a tasty white pill.
Zion, OR, is a quintessential Oregon town, pop 15,000, on the east side of the Willamette Valley, hard against the Washalla River. It has a main street with flower baskets and antique stores, 4 parks, 7 restaurant/diners, 5 coffee kiosks, 12 churches, a Wallymart, 3 hardware stores, 2 feed stores, a sawmill, and assorted other features.
Over the bridge and nine miles east of town in the foothills below the Cascade Range, past the big grass seed fields and filbert orchards, where the ground is too rumpled and rocky for farming, there are patches of rural neighborhoods, 5 to 20 acre parcels on mostly paved winding roads. The housing is various, from trailer homes to million dollar McMansions, some cleared and horsey, and some covered with thick Douglas-fir and/or Oregon white oak.
Chester (69) and Mabel (?) have lived on their place for 30 years and in that time have cleared and thinned, mowed big lawns, planted a huge garden and orchard, set up swings and a sand box for the grandkids, and established “mature” landscaping with deer fencing, rose beds, lilacs and peonies, daffodils and gladiolas, and other flowers and trees.
Last year the neighboring (to Chester) parcel was subdivided into three 5-acre lots (the minimum allowed) and sold to three families from big cities who crave the rural lifestyle. The “developer”, a real estate agent, cleared firs and oaks from the homesites, rocked a driveway, and hauled off most of the logs. He left half a load of fir logs, however, not enough to fill a log truck, next to the new driveway.
Charles (50) and Kathy (?) bought one of the parcels and built a modest but very nice home. The land is still pretty rough around their place, stumps, rocks, and weeds, but they’re working on fixing it up. Charles manages a freeze-dry vegetable packing plant in Salem, a major commute and long hours this time of year, so he doesn’t have a lot of free time.
The pile of logs was on his parcel, so he asked Chester if he might want them for firewood. Chester said sure. He cut some for firewood, 3 or 4 cords, but the logs were pretty hefty and better for lumber, if they could be sawn. So Chester asked his neighbor on the other side, Marvin, if he might be interested in them.
Marvin (72) and Bee (?) have lived on their place for 40 years. They are one of the “pioneer” families to build in the neighborhood, back when the pulp mill in Zion was still running and spreading its “cat box” odor over the area. The pulp mill shut down 35 years ago, making a rather obnoxious area much more livable and desirable, although it took a decade or more for people to discover its qualities.
Marvin has a machine shop where he repairs tractors and other farm machinery. He is a master at that craft and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He asked his son, Walt (46), if he would like the logs. Walt said yes because he knows Sam, who has a portable sawmill, and Walt wants the lumber for posts and beams for the new shop he’s building.
So, long story short, last Saturday Marvin drove his Massey 1100 tractor (it’s a beast) with loader over to Charles’ place and using chains and grapple tongs loaded the logs onto Walt’s flatbed trailer, pulled by his F-250 with a “Biden Sucks” bumper sticker. The weather was grey and misty, as usual. Chester and Clyde (74), a former faller for Washalla Industries, helped. Clyde brought his big (32″ bar) chainsaw and bucked the logs into 16’s and 20’s to make them a little more manageable. As it was, it took four trailer fulls, the last a one-log (20 footer, 36″ on the butt) payload. Thankfully it didn’t burst the tires or break an axle.
Charles and Kathy were pleased to have their mess cleaned up, and the old men with “farm implementia” had a great time, laughing and sweating, kidding each other unmercifully, much to the delight of Walter, who had heard it all before but still enjoyed the banter. His trailer didn’t break, and he is looking forward to timbers for his new shop.
And that’s life in rural America during the Great Pandemic, as the country slides into oblivion, neighbor helping neighbor, men who still know how to get it done, nine miles from Zion.
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