Saturday, December 15, 2018

Keeping the Saw in the Wood

Crosscut saws are made with a handle on each end

As European settlers began to move into the magnificent old growth forests of  North America they brought with them axes and crosscut saws.

They began to fell the "inexhaustible" supply of timber. These land-clearing farmers and lumberjacks frequently worked in pairs.

The great forests of North America were felled (and cut-to-length) almost entirely by muscle power!

Back when our kids were babies I had one of these saws. With it, I cut firewood to heat our rented farmhouse.


But my saw had a handle on only one end and I can assure you that one man alone in the woods wouldn't get far in felling a forest.

Felling a forest required two handles and a man on each end of the saw. Then camaraderie could be established and a rhythm set. By the power of two, the sawyers were able to keep the saw in the wood.

Jean François Millet, 1814-1875, French

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor

Unbelievably, by the end of the era very little old growth timber was left standing. It was a time when the terms "manpower" and "teamwork" had some real teeth.

The song of the sawyers' saw

Whether we are setting out to cut down a tree in the forest --- or just trying to overcome discouragement --- having a handle on both ends of the saw can help us to keep it in the wood.

Facing any formidable task alone can seem daunting, but facing it together can help us carry through and get the job done.

Feeling the tug on the other end of the saw can give us the strength to carry on.

Working together, we can make the saw sing.

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