We hit up the Royal Easter Show yesterday. It was exactly the same as last year - daisy dukes (now with added Vans sneakers!), fairy floss and... no wood chopping.
No wood chopping.
Wood chopping finished on Sunday and we were there Monday. I can't even begin to describe my disappointment when we bounded over to the Wood chop Stadium and it was empty of both wood and the men that chop it. I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I actually had tears my eyes and was very grateful when LOML bought me a Bertie Beetle bag to try to make up for it.
Bertie Beetle is good, but he's not a patch on my axemen.
Wood chop and I go way back. My dad used to take us to stand-alone events down the south coast. You know you're hardcore when the chopping isn't even attached to an agricultural show. This was back in the day when Big Dave Foster was in his prime and a man his size had somewhere to go. A bunch of burly blokes, a ridiculous amount of hard wood and shiny axes kept in worn leather-with-gaffer-tape-detailing cases.
At yesterday's Show, I missed sitting in the sun listening to the calm, crackling voice announce the next event; both voice and words from another time with an accent all their own. The rhythm of the axe beats a steady tune that the axemen waltz to - one side of the wood and turn, the other side of the wood and done.
The heat of the sun makes me woozy, but the fairness of the handicap system and the championing of the underdog makes me positively delirious. We clap home the last place getters and stand and cheer when the little lads get in and have a go. Grandfather to father, father to son, son to us. Under the spell of the toughest of men fighting it out to stand gentle in victory and steady in defeat.
Standing block, tree felling, underhand, double buck. White pants baggy and smeared with god knows what, but the singlet is neatly tucked and the hand that shakes his opponents is clean and honest. Big, calloused hands that can fell a tree with eight sharp blows. Respectful, timeless, quiet.
Yes, I missed the wood chop yesterday for it's a place and a time I don't get the chance to visit often enough. Life at the pace of a heart beat with more beating heart than anything else I know.
Do you like the wood chop?
What other activities give you that sense of timelessness and connection?
[Image by Michael Janik]