At the biomass plant in Middlebury, they know
how many B. T.U.s they need to run that school.
They can count the barrels, the tens of thousands
of gallons they displace every year.
I picture, Justin and Jason Lathrop, for instance,
at the stump with either this Dr. Seuss-like machine,
or with a chainsaw, making decisions about whether
this organism, this plant, a hundred-fifty, ninety,
forty years old, whatever, is going to end up being
cut to making a B. T.U.
I hope and want to believe that not going to Iraq
to get another barrel of number six crude,
or to the tar sands of Alberta, and instead,
to go from some dorm room, backwards
to that biomass plant, then out down the road
with a truck driven by a kid who went to high school
right around here, back to a woodlot up in Lincoln,
to me, I am hopeful that it’s a really good idea,
compared to the alternative.
I think people working in woods
who tip trees over are architects of this structure
that has come from way before them,
and they are building something.
They may have no idea what the outcome might be,
because of the timeframe.
You can count on this bunch of people to be practical.
If I had to choose in dire emergencies, I would be around
people who can function under duress, because
if you spend time in the cab of that feller-buncher,
six hours, longer maybe, making decisions every split second,
with these huge trees attached to the ground,
and he’s going to set them free,
that’s the kind of person I want to be around
when things go awry.
They’re practical. They have solutions.
They solve problems all the time: broken parts,
sick employees, the list goes on and on and on.
If those guys win megabucks, think they’re going to stop?
They’ll get some new equipment, maybe repaint the kitchen.
You have to be a very special person to carry on.
When was the last time a sawmill opened
in a new location by a new person?
Who would do that?
53, forester, father,
As a child growing up in
the “concrete canyons”
of Detroit and Rochester,
New York, Olson found
his calling during freerange
summers among his
in the woods of rural
Can’t see the show in person? The full color, 72-page show catalogue includes reproductions of 20 paintings and drawings by Kathleen Kolb, nine narratives and three poems
by Verandah Porche, and essays by Dave Mance III and Debbie Hagan. You can purchase a copy through the artists’ website, www.kathleenkolb.com/Shedding-Light-1-
Announcement.htm, or through the Northern Woodlands shop, northernwoodlands.org/shop/c/books.
Wood Chip Power Plant, 2009, Oil on panel 12” x 21. 5”, Collection of Eadie and Chuck Templin