Priorities, you see...
I thought of that scene last week as I was sitting on the tailgate of my truck cursing (loudly and longly) trying vainly to start a chainsaw that, up to that point, had never failed to start and indeed had never given me so much as a hiccup in the number of years I've used to it to fell trees, cut firewood and clear brush and the cursed Eastern redcedar.
But last week, it sure enough quit on me. And quit at a time when I was 30 miles from home and without the second chainsaw that I normally take as a back-up. I had forgotten to throw it in the truck. I was in a hurry because I wanted to cut a load of wood quickly and then lazily fritter away the rest of the afternoon hunting. Since we're heating mainly with wood this winter, enduring the former is how I usually justify (to the wife) getting away with the latter.
Then I remembered the 24-inch bow saw and and axe I always carry in my truck tool box, and thought "Silly modern man! Do you think your wood-cutting ancestors had chainsaws? Your great-grandfather's one-man crosscut saw hanging on the garage wall wasn't always decoration, you know."
So, with visions of self-sufficient rugged individualism looping through my head like some kind of uber-stylized Leni Riefenstahl-ish fantasy, I slung my saw and axe over my broad, rugged shoulder and sallied forth into the big woods, whistling Python's Lumberjack song as I went (Hey, it's the only lumberjack song I know...).
An hour later, with both my broad, rugged shoulders and all illusions shattered I came stumbling back, exhausted, soaked in sweat, rubbery, useless arms hanging from my sides like so much over-cooked pasta. I had managed to cut enough wood to perhaps keep me warm overnight, provided the temperature didn't drop to, oh, say 65 degrees or so.
I figured that at this pace to fill the bed of my truck with a load of firewood, a task that - with a chainsaw - I can usually finish in two, maybe three hours of work would with bow saw and axe take me roughly until mid-January.
My "O, Pioneers" delusions thusly destroyed, I once again said to hell with it, threw the saw and axe back in the tool box, flipped off the chainsaw one last time, grabbed my bow and went hunting. Which is what I should have done in the first place.
A couple weeks ago I wrote a "Field Notes" blog about an anthropologist's claim that modern man is, compared to his forebears, a screaming pantywaist http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/hunting/2009/10/chad-love-are-modern-hunters-wimps