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.