My neighbor is cutting trees: beech and birch and cedar, spruce and tamarack and ash. It's decimated back there. At first I believed in the sustainability of Maine's forestry initiatives, that the state didn't allow clear-cutting on the scale I've seen in Alabama. But as it wears on, day by day, the endless drone of the chainsaw, a crunch like bone as another tree collapses, the whine of the skitter sullying my Aroostook County quiet, I feel like I'm about to collapse, too.
I'm aware of my hypocrisy. I burn cedar all winter in the wood stove, for heat, and I feel especially hypocritical about it now when it's a bare forty degrees outside and there's a full moon—and still I burn the wood. I don't want to burn diesel in the furnace, I don't want to smell petroleum roasting in my house. I also don't want to start a big fire for little ole me.
But I'm cold. I'm still a hothouse flower, a cutting of jasmine from tropical shores. So I burn the wood that my neighbor next door cuts, if only in a figurative sense—I burn the cast-off wood from the lumber mill the next road over. I don't know where he's taking the trees he's cut that border my road, what he's doing with their carcasses, but there's a good chance I'll end up burning their cast-off ends, too.
I believe in well-managed forests, in biomass energy as one of the few solutions to the carbon crisis, but when it's happening right next to me, when the trees that are feet away from my walking path, are turning into nothing but barren, shuddering corpses... I find it difficult to stomach. Not to be melodramatic or anything. My desk is made from wood. My house, table, chairs. It's just the view of it up close that's so painful, that makes me want to swear off the stuff altogether.