The tree guys came today. Tim picked them up from the government dock and brought them to the island to examine the big trees that loomed over the cabin, too ornery for his novice chainsaw skills. They agreed a price and got to work. Paul was a Newfie and Bill was from Nova Scotia, so they sounded just like my Roscommon relatives. They were fine specimens of northern manhood as it is romantically imagined by too-thin girls in Manhattan: flannel shirts, handlebar moustaches, and powerful chainsaws. They gave the old birches a good seeing-to.

I tried to impress them by nonchalently mixing chinking concrete in my old wheelbarrow. Unfortunately, I can’t answer questions and keep count of measures at the same time, so there was a suspicious amount of sand. Then I was distracted enough to tip in a full bucket of water, swamping my too-heavy mix. I arranged my I-meant-to-do-that face and they politely continued oiling their chainsaws and answering Tim’s questions.

They climbed doomed trees and leaned back in the straps glamorously. Their chainsaws–orange Stihls with 20-inch blades–roared. They hacked at giant stumps, shaving them flush to the forest floor. They cut huge boles into firewood lengths, leaving me to cart them to the woodpile. Then they puttered back to the mainland.

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