BUSTIN WOOD OR BUSTIN MY CHOPS?
While I was living in Dalton, Ga, I married a woman who lived in an area known as the Waring Road. The sector was located out in the county where many of the old-time families originated. It was very rural, and the inhabitants were predominantly mill workers or small-scale farmers. Most of the homes were very modest frame houses or trailers. The inhabitants were, for the most part, white fundamentalist Baptist. I found them wonderful people with a sizeable moral compass – the salt of the earth and exceptionally traditional.
The homestead was a small farm with a small single-level frame, a three-bedroom house with one bathroom. This is where she, her two sisters, and her brother were raised. There were a couple of out structures and a fishing pond for watering a few cows and a couple of horses. Also, a vegetable garden and some chicken were running around.
Wedding, funerals, and church services were simple, but all were joyous occasions. I always departed an event feeling uplifted. Every Sunday, the family would gather for dinner at her parent's home for some of the best homegrown food on the planet. Her dad was truly the patriarch and received treatment accordingly.
One Saturday, a family event was called for a day of “Bustin wood” down in the pasture. The house was full, and all of the children were playing in the pasture while the adults were gathered on the side porch. Her dad, brother, and I were in the pasture, eying trees to fall. This was a relatively new activity for me. I had used a chain saw before, and I had chopped down a few trees when I was a boy scout, but I never busted wood. So I didn’t know what to expect.
Her dad selected the trees. Then, we each had a chain saw and attacked our respective trees. I watched what the other guys did and followed their lead to a T.
We downed three good-sized trees. Next came the trimming, cutting into two to three-foot logs and then stacking in preparation for “Bustin.” This was hard work, but so far, so good.
Each of us had an ax, a wedge, and a maul. The “Bustin began’.” We all stood the logs on end and went to work. Her brother hit his log with his maul with a mighty blow, and it split in half. Then her father, all one hundred and forty pounds of him, followed suit and his log split. Then it was my turn. I set the log on end, grabbed my maul aimed, and gave that log a monstrous hit with all the power my two hundred and fifty-pound body could muster. The maul hit with tremendous force and bounced off the log as if the maul was made of rubber and the log was made of concrete. I reset the log and tried again. The same thing happened. After another two or three attempts, her dad called me over to demonstrate his skill. I closely watched while he kept “Bustin.” Her brother was even faster than his dad. These two guys did the chore with such little effort that I mimicked their actions. I hit slow and smooth, and that didn’t help either. I had blisters on my hands, and I was suffering.
After about two hours of this painful struggle, we decided to take a lemonade break. I was embarrassed as we approached the porch. I looked back towards the pasture and saw two piles of wood where there should have been three. We sat down in our rockers, and I noticed her father and brother were grinning ear to ear. I was pissed and asked, what are you guys snickering at?
Her dad just said through his grin, “ Son, you really are dumb.” I said, excuse me. Bill continued, “Larry and I were all this time Bustin hickory oak, and you were tryin to bust elm. Everybody knows you can’t bust elm”. The entire group was hysterically laughing at my expense. I was officially initiated into the family.
We took Bill’s pick up down to the pasture, loaded up, and stacked the wood under the shed by the house. Of course, I was damaged, and I was done, but I was a good sport.
As a result of my indoctrination, it gave me pleasure to treat the family to a Sears Motorized Wood Splitter. We all put our new friend to excellent use in the coming years.