I recall hiking in the forest with my grandfather when he and I were daylong companions in the summers of my childhood. To keep pace with his long strides I have to take two steps for every one of his. Sensing this he slows and changes direction slightly, bringing us up beside a large deadwood log. “Let’s sit and have a drink of water,” he suggests. He pours from his bottle and we sit silent for a moment to take in our surroundings. I find the water as sweet and satisfying as anything I've ever tasted. “That’s good spring water, hey?” he says. It reminds me of the detour we made that morning to fill the water bottle at an impossibly hidden, natural basin with crystal clear water running like a faucet left on, I had thought. I sip my drink and gaze around hoping to offer a respectful question or a mature comment. The log we sit on appears ancient. It's damp-black with age and cushioned by a thick blanket of moss. I see, as I lean over to look at its flat cut end, that it has a hollow center. Maybe, I think, that’s why it was left behind so long ago, and venture out loud: “George, “ (he insisted that everyone call him by his name) do you think the reason someone cut this tree and then left it here was because of that hole in the center?” “I don’t have to guess.” he replies, “I know. We were logging out of camp 45 that year. When this big Elm was cut -- tough work to fell a tree this size with only a two-man crosscut saw -- we found it had a rotten heart. Most of the sapwood was okay. We considered taking it. But with an early snowmelt the ground was real muddy. Remember that place I showed you where the rail siding was? That’s a long way from here. Such a big load would be rough on the horses. We waited for the weather to change and freeze the mud, but it never got cold again and we had to leave this log behind.” I was stunned. We’d traveled so deeply into the woods and seemed to have come this way so randomly. It was amazing to realize that to George this was all just a stroll in familiar territory. This seemingly timeless artifact of logging days gone by, had been, still was in a way, a very real part of my grandfather’s life. And, I realized, my fingers were reaching back into history and touching the past.
Contributed by: Rick Loduha, Hancock, MI