Shedding Light on the Working Forest
by David Mance III
My father’s a forester, and I remember clearly driving around with him visiting logging jobs when I was a boy. It was the early and mid-nineteen eighties, and I see now that the trips were both business and his way of showing his kid what real work looks like. Sometimes the visits were adventures; we’d bull the old S-10 pickup up a skidroad into a logging camp, which in the late twentieth century just meant a pull-behind camper on a landing, a scarf of smoke rising through a tin straightpipe in the wall, inside extra fuel and a sharpening station and probably a Stihl calendar on the wall featuring a bikini-clad woman holding a chainsaw, the juxtaposition of cutter teeth and bare flesh enough to make an OSHA inspector look out the window for other signs of the apocalypse. Sometimes the visits were more mundane, but no less memorable. Conversations on the landing. The smell of pine and wool and chain oil. The roar of the old Detroit Diesel engines. I’m remembering the characters who presided over these scenes as I write this: Scott Mayer, a logger and beaver trapper whose house in Manchester Village – number four Newhouses hanging on the garage wall – stood as a testament to the old Vermont as the town domesticated itself around him; Claude Dern, who cut trees and wrote murder mysteries and entertained children with a talking bear cape named Bruin; some German guy whose name and story I can’t remember doing a cable job in Rupert, me just standing there, awed, as two thousand pound logs hung like giant closepins and disappeared over the face of ledges so steep they may as well have been the end of the world.
TURNING TO LIGHT, LISTENING TO THE FOREST
by Debbie Hagan
The quality of light defines a moment in the day and in the season, and so in our lives. When we experience this, we are face-to-face with our own temporal natures. This brings both the joy of being alive and the poignancy of it to mind. — Kathleen Kolb
Kathleen Kolb sees light as a timekeeper, ticking off days, hours, and minutes. Light inspires her, serves as her creative driver, the impetus to draw and paint. She gazes at its colors, intensity, and mood. Through charcoal, watercolor, and oil she captures fleeting, resonant moments.
When Kolb, a student at Rhode Island School of Design, visited Vermont for the first time, in 1974, she was immediately struck by a feeling of “coming home.” It would become just that in 1977, and today her artist studio perches high atop a hill in Lincoln. The windows open to panoramic views of mountains sheathed in dense, dark forest. They stretch as far as the eye can see. From there, one senses the depth of the forests, which cover three-fourths of this state.
Many artists here choose to paint bucolic farms, meandering streams, and white steeple churches, yet Kolb chooses a less accessible path, one that leads into the woods. It’s a world that we all should know—given all the forest products we consume—yet it’s more secluded, grittier, harder to reach.
Shedding Light on the Working Forest began a number of years ago when Kolb sat in a sawmill yard drawing a big pile of logs with a grapple. “The wind was blowing woodchips across my page,” she remembers. “I was drawing with charcoal, which is burnt wood, onto paper, which is wood pulp, and I thought, ‘this is an integrated experience.’” The forest seemed to say, Look at how I’m immersed in your life.
Shedding Light on the Working Forest is made possible by the generous support of
Allard Lumber Company
Sara Coffey and Dave Snyder
Howard P. Colhoun Family Foundation
East Mountain Forestry
Hewat Fund of RSF Social Finance
International Paper Foundation
Bruce and Kyla Lisman
National Endowment for the Arts
Plum Creek Foundation
Stony Point Foundation
Vermont Arts Council
Vermont Arts Endowment Fund, a component fund of the Vermont Community Foundation
Vermont Woods Studios
The related events on October 2, 8, 15, and 22 have been organized by BMAC, in partnership with Forest*Care, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, Vermont Land Trust, and Windham Regional Commission.