Austin, Texas, United States
If you look around Austin and it's surroundings hill country, it's difficult to even notice that cedar chopper's once derived there income from the hard labor of selling cedar firewood, and cedar fence post. Allergies and fire hazards prompted by the use of cedar woods, brought about the demise of cedar as a fuel.. With the death of this heritage in the mid-1970's, the next generation of firewood sells-persons, still proudly considered cedar choppers, were born--no strangers to hard work, perseverance, poverty and pain.
This may very well be the second oldest profession in the world, having been around since the birth of fire. It is not a profession that you desire, or aspire to, it is simply a birth right, not a privilege, passed on from one generation to the next, never given the respect it deserves. A closely knit, diverse culture of endless summers spent cutting, stacking and storing firewood for the long awaited cold season to begin, and countless cold winters spent in the harshest of elements for such little reward.
Few remember the hardships involved in cutting your own firewood for fuel, buying firewood at one time having been reserved for a few privileged or wealthy. It was a daunting, tedious task, born of necessity. The need for this product today, is in as great of demand as ever before. Some still use firewood as a primary heating source in fireplaces or pot belly stoves, possibly having no trust for gas or electric heating. Others use firewood as a secondary heating source to supplement the high cost of electric or gas heating, or for a romantic night at home with the better half. While still others use different types of fruit and nut woods or full bodied tastes of hickory or mesquite woods for flavoring in cooking, bar-b-cuing or smoking.
Conservationists have a tendency to look down their noses at cedar chopper's, not realizing that the trees used for firewood are, more often than not, destroyed by nature or development. Most cedar chopper's are natural born arborists who are knowledgeable in the preventative maintenance needed to keep a tree in good health, to help defend it-self against insects and disease, as well as the proper ways to prune, or as a last resort, to remove unwanted or unhealthy trees. Cedar chopper's understand the need to replenish this natural resource, often supporting re planting organizations, as well they know that weeding out the undergrowth will allow for the oldest, strongest trees to grow to their full potential.
When you look upon the weathered brow of the man or woman who delivers your firewood, whether it be for necessity or pleasure, know that you are seeing a diverse culture and a strong heritage of individuals who are prod, honest and above all else, hard working. Know that the child in the front seat of the delivery truck is learning a valuable lesson, taught by example and with love, in life, and in living the reality of the "American dream". The cost of a cord of firewood is a small price to pay for a glimpse of such a big dream.
Now for a glimpse in to the heart and soul of the "Cedar Chopper's Daughter".
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