The Quasimodo Pile Goes Down—Son of a Birch!

I’ve been taking advantage of our cold weather to split the most ugly, cantankerous, gnarly, and twisted pieces of wood that you can imagine.

Boy, have there been some tough ones. I wrote about the glory of winning in battle over these mean, twisted, miserable chunks of firewood last winter. It’s still one of the truly wonderful parts of our -30 to -40 F cold snaps. The added brittleness of the wood usually makes these stubborn pieces of firewood split fairly easily.

But this year I have one tree that is just killing me. Every damned piece of this thing has been a fight.
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Crossing Paths

I put the book down and brought my head back into the 21st century. I’d been reading 19th-century correspondence about explorations in the far Northwest by some of the most important people to document the biological diversity of Alaska and western Canada. I’d just finished a long letter from 1864 by Robert Kennicott to R. McFarlane, a Hudson’s Bay Company factor.

This was in William Healy Dall’s 1915 biography of Spencer Fullerton Baird, who was the first curator at the Smithsonian Institution and later served as Assistant Secretary and then as Secretary.
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