Obsolete tools

Mes activités bûcheronnes du weekend, et un peu de langue ludique.

  • 2004-07-22

Yesterday, I unexpectedly got to duty as a lumberjack’s assistant. Two thirds of an old and creaky plum tree had come down under the weight of its ripening fruit in the backyard of some friends I was dropping in on. So today’s BBC News headline Saws face axe in forests of future caught my attention when it might otherwise not have.

[For the Frenchies — aide à la compréhension: face is a verb here, meaning confront or meet, carrying the connotation of obligation; when employers axe jobs, they fire people, lay them off, sack them; in the passive sense, the soon-to-be ex-employees get the sack, get the pink slip, are sent packing or, like here, face the axe. HTH]

The article talks about the imminent demise, in the logging industry, of saws, which are to be replaced by laser-wielding robots. Besides adding a pun, the title’s axe metaphor certainly works better, in the forestry context, than the fire metaphor. (And just imagine saws with pink slips impaled on their teeth… )

To return to the sad story of the plum tree, we didn’t have access to lasers, and there wasn’t even a chain saw in sight. But we managed, with G pretending to be the macho man he isn’t and attacking at the thick branches with a venerable hand saw and a tiny axe (whenever K, who probably had never handled an axe before and seemed to get a sense of empowerment from hacking away at the wood, relinquished the tool), and V having the good sense to get a pair of lopping shears from a neighbour. (Never having done any gardening in English, I hesitated between “lopper”, “pruner” and “clipper”. I don’t think ours were made in Finland “for endurance and strength” like these. They got the job done, though, even without having enjoyed the Finnish climate whilst growing up.)

Oh, and we harvested nearly 100 lbs of under-ripe plums.

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