Half Shell by Bruce Edmundson
About twenty-five years ago I worked as field engineer in the forest industry. We, a small consulting firm, did a variety of work, one of which was to value timber on private property. One did this by doing what is called timber cruising, which is the identification, volume measurement, aging and health of a stand of timber by quantifying representative samples. We often worked in winter, on the snow, using snow mobiles and snow shoes to get around. It was damn cold, usually below zero.
When the sun shone on the snow, it would melt it and where the sunny day turned into a clear and cold night, the surface melt would freeze and become the perfect surface for snow mobile and snow shoe. As the day progressed, the surface would soften and the snow mobiles would sink, as would we walking from tree to tree, and that’s when we knew when it was time to turn around and head out.
The Douglas Lake Ranch, one of the biggest in B.C., was thinking of selling and wanted to value their timber. That’s where we came in. There wasn’t a lot of timber, mostly scrubby pine, some Douglas Fir, and clumps of Cottonwoods in the swale.
It was in one of these swales that I found some burls on downed and dead Cottonwoods. I brought back a chain saw and cut a couple out. This one stayed with me, moving to three different cities, and between at least 6 different houses before it ended up in my workshop here at home, and became the carving it is.
I should have gotten more – shoulda, coulda, woulda – as I haven’t seen any Cottonwood burls since then. – Bruce Edmundson