My Dad’s Choppers

March 15, 2014

My Dad's weathered and stained choppers

My Dad’s weathered and stained choppers

Watercolor sketch of my Dad's choppers

Watercolor sketch of my Dad’s choppers

My Dad always called his heavyweight, double-layer leather mittens “choppers.”  I learned that this name tag was derived from their popularity with woodcutters.

So it is fitting that these were Dad’s go-to hand coverings for outdoor work in winter.  When I was a child, we heated our old farmhouse with wood and coal, and I remember many a winter day when we hauled a wagon load of chopped wood from piles in the woods to the basement, where our parents could easily toss a chunk or two into the roaring furnace.  Later we switched to propane heat, but Dad kept chopping wood.  This was an endless chore on the farm.  Wind-fallen branches and trees in the woods provided a ready supply of wood, and the goal was to keep the woods cleared.   I remember the loud buzz of the chainsaw as Dad worked for hours in the woods.  He would carefully chop and stack square cords of wood behind the barn, and he sold these for cash money.

There is an old saying that people who chop wood are thrice warmed — with the chopping, with the hauling and stacking, and with its burning.

When my Dad was 90 years old, he bought a new chainsaw because his old one wore out.  Now, my Dad never had the newest equipment, so he was an old hand at repairing and band-aiding, and coming up with inventive fixes to keep his machinery and tools running.  If he said his chain saw couldn’t be repaired, I take his word that no one would have been able to revive it.  Knowing how frugal he was, I’m sure he fully intended to give that new chainsaw a few years of hard work to get his money’s worth.

Dad’s old choppers, which housed his hard-working hands and kept them protected and warm, hold lots of memories for me.

8 Responses to “My Dad’s Choppers”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    Over the years I’ve slowly culled the bits and pieces of my parents’ lives, keeping only the most significant as mementos.* I still have my dad’s leather work gloves, and a photo of him wearing them while — chopping wood!

    * Sometimes I get stopped in my tracks. What’s the plural of memento? I wondered. As it turns out, either mementos or mementoes is acceptable, but it seems that mementos is preferred.

    • Rosemary Says:

      Now I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for old photos of my dad wearing the boots, caps, and choppers so that I can pair then with my sketches. Have you ever written about your dad’s leather gloves? I’d love to hear where your musings take you.

  2. Chris Says:

    Lovely story Rosemary…I could read stories of your Dad’s life all day. And it is so wonderful to see the real objects you tell about and sketch. I wonder, were you able to keep anything of your Mum’s…say her sewing basket or something like that? I thought that a sketch of something of both of theirs together would be lovely.

    • Rosemary Says:

      No, I didn’t feel drawn to sketching my Mom’s things. I wasn’t painting at the time of her death. I do know this much about me — I draw what I am drawn to. I don’t feel that same tug of interest at other people’s suggestions. So will I ever pair something of my Mom’s and Dad’s? I don’t know. Perhaps there is a way you can do something similar within your family.

  3. Chris Says:

    It was just a thought Rosemary, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to suggest too much. I didn’t know if you were drawing then or not. I feel as if I’ve over stepped my bounds again and I apologize. My parents divorced when I was very young, so I’ve always loved to hear about long time married folks and their families. I guess I was fantasizing again. So sorry….

    • Rosemary Says:

      You weren’t overstepping your bounds. I love hearing how people receive my painted images, and any response you have — more, more, or why not this — is valid. I didn’t want you to feel like I was ignoring you and your comment, and at the same time, I know enough about myself to feel pressured if I would agree to the idea you suggested. So, I didn’t mean to sound peevish, but I didn’t want to leave you dangling, either. It’s curious, this thing about inspiration, and I’m trying to listen to what my inclinations are. Sometimes that’s a very quiet prompt, and it’s easy to miss.

  4. Chris Says:

    You didn’t sound peevish at all and don’t feel that you have to answer every comment, question, whatever…sometimes people (me) just ramble with unrealistic ideas for others. Or in this case…a fantasy…about togetherness…Ok, none of that makes sense…See?
    Anyway, thank-you!

  5. Elisa Says:

    Beautiful!! I bet he would have thought me a bit off to say such a thing about something so mundane and for use only.

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