Learning From A Cedar Tree Experience
By Lanita Medina


Memories are created by life experiences … and life experiences – memories - are meant to be treasured and given; kept and shared;  and most definitely recorded….

I started putting things into the 1930 Model A Ford that my 92 year old dad, a logger by trade, was asking me to gather and load up – 3 chainsaws, all different sizes; 5 axes, various types; 9 wedges; some chains, oil, gasoline. 

Starting that Model A is something only my dad can do, and soon we were chugging off into ‘the woods.’   “I don’t see a cedar tree, Daddy – are you sure we are in the right place?”  “Just keep going down the hill, and you’ll see it.  We have to get out here and walk the rest of the way, it’s pretty steep.”  

In the ‘olden days’ my dad clambered over these mountains like a goat – but that was 80 years ago, and today he used his 4-prong cane, reminding me of the little old man in “Up.”  With the other hand he held onto me – or rather, I held onto him.  Chainsaw on one side, my daddy on my other side, we very slowly made our way down the mountain.  Sure enough, a tall but dead cedar appeared, with two barbed wire fences growing right through it.  “Yep, these fences are 50 years old.  I put these up right before you were born, trying to keep the property lines tidied up.”

With a sudden surge of strength he grabbed the ax from my sister’s hand and held it up, squinted with one eye closed… and then the ax dropped.  He shook his head sadly. “I need to see which way the tree is leaning but my arm won’t go that high anymore.” I reach for the ax handle, put my hand over his and together we lift it, eyeing the tree.  It was a moment that burned into my memory.  My strong daddy, now weak.  A tough disciplinarian, now gentler.  A hard worker, now slowing down.  And not wanting to admit defeat or weakness.  But today we held the ax together, and I stood by him as he cut the ‘watermelon wedge’ out of one side. 

And I asked questions –(why had I not wanted to learn this stuff before? Why had I not asked and learned all the wisdom he wanted to pass on to me?)

“Daddy, why don’t you just cut the tree down?  Why bother with the Wedge and the small cuts; then slowly felling the tree.  It takes so long this way!  Why not use the big chainsaw?”

His answer was in three words:  “It’s too unstable.”   And I remembered.  He learned the hard way – from broken legs when trees ‘jumped’ the wrong way… from near death when trees rolled…  and I also finally realized why, even though he can barely walk, he still needed to bring me down this mountain and cut down one more tree.  He’s re-living memories too, and wanting to make sure that I don’t forget what he has to teach me still.


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