Standing Timber by Christine Swiderski
I was taught respect for nature. Or should I say, for the natural? Nature of things can be good or evil. Yet what God created is an organism within its self. Good and evil. For those He created in His image there is a choice. The Garden aspects of His
creation is a natural process. That process I was taught to love fear and respect.
I drive a truck. It hauls logs which were cut down as standing timber. Companies buy parcels of standing timber (trees) that need to be thinned out for the health of the rest of the trees. The companies use what we've culled for, paper, furniture. Also, some are sold as firewood. Depending upon the health of the wood and the species.
The grandeur of some trees which have been around for decades is impressive. I am in awe of such stature. Yet I well know they need to be treated, culled, trimmed to keep them healthy. When the trees grow too close together they tend to choke each other and stunt the growth of the young. Too often I believe that happens with humans. You cannot pack humans like sardines. Society suffers.
I have been doing this job for decades. In the daily doings of my job, I have met the salt of the earth people who want to get back to the basics. Others who have moved from the big city wanting to get back to basics but do not have a clue what the basics are.
Unless you are used to the woods at night you will be unnerved my the sounds and movement in the woods. A skittering creature as innocuous as a possum. If enough of them were out and about you would think someone rose from the dead and was giving you ice stares.
I have seen the clueless even when told a million times "If there is rain and thunder do not take cover under a tree. They do not realize if you are standing near a tree the electricity literally jumps from the tree to you because humans are better conductors than trees.
I have yet married because I have yet met a woman with common sense. The woods are my life. I am not grizzly Adams, but I love to be out in nature. Most women I have dated think of the woods as part of a vacation, campfire, and marshmallows.
Park Ranger gals are too masculine for me. I do not mind soft and feminine just want them to be flexible. Willing to learn and willing to try.
I am on my way to help out local law enforcement. There is a missing hiker. I know these woods better than anyone.
When the deputy came to speak to the Sheriff he had in his hand a wrinkled wad. The sheriff glanced and immediately passed it to me. Time is of the essence. The stained county integrated state map any local chamber of commerce gives out is accurate to a minimal certainty.
The sheriff handed this off to me saying? "It seems she went into the area from county road 100."
One glance gave me what I needed to know. I told the Sheriff it is not current with the cutbacks in the parks and recs sector. I immediately went to the spot with the Sheriff's department near behind me.
I grabbed my gear from the back of the truck. My backpack in place I set out in one direction, the sheriff and deputies set out in the other direction. 20 minutes into my search I slowly came across debris. Torn papers, personal belongings, socks, clothing strewn as if discarded by a disgruntled teenager. I followed the trail of debris to an abandoned campsite. Coals were long cold, the tent was ripped to shreds.
It has been my experience not to just look in a circumference but also look up. In the dark, I could see something hanging from a nearby tree.
I pointed my flashlight, the beam showed legs hanging limp. My gut knotted hoping I did not come upon a suicide.
Taking my backpack off I set out 2 lanterns to give me a clearer view. It showed just enough of a female hanging by a rope tied around her waist. I quickly pulled my harness on, secured the grapple to an adjoining tree. I started my climb up the tree. Once I reached her I checked her pulse. She was still alive. My movements awakened her. In a nearly audible voice, she said: "Help me." I first called the sheriff told him what I had found. I leaned into her and said, "Are you, Sharon Morgan?"
She said: "Yes."
I kept talking to her "My name is Justin. I will stay with you until the Paramedics get here. I am afraid to move you. They will use a flat board and slowly place you upon it. Then they will gradually lower you to the ground."
I gave her some water. She slowly drank. With a clearer voice, she said "Thanks, Tarzan."
I laughed, she smiled. I said: "Well Jane what brings you here?"
She said: "I needed to get away from the city. Everyone was too busy to go with me. I decided to go it alone. Bears came to visit. I climbed the tree and let them have my stuff."
I nodded and said: "I am glad you took the time to tie the rope to yourself."
She said: "I must have fallen asleep. I awoke to the snap of the rope. I think I either broke a rib or cracked it."
By this time the Sheriff had arrived on the scene with an entourage of professional help. The paramedics were swift and precise. They slowly placed her on the flat board lowered her down to the ground. Once on the ground I went over to her and asked: "Are you single."
She smiled and said "Yes Tarzan."
I said, "Okay, Jane do I have permission to come courting?"
She said "Give it your best shot Tarzan."
I yelled my response as they took her away: "Game on!"
My day off was not until Friday which was 2 days from now. By then she may be in better shape.
When I arrived at the hospital the room was being packed up by a tall brunette. Not Sharon but there was a family resemblance.
I said: "Excuse me I am here to see Sharon can you tell me where to find her."
The brunette looked up and cried: "In the morgue."
She repeatedly apologized for being so abrupt. Finally, she calmed herself and said: "I am Trudy, Sharon's sister. I was supposed to go with her camping. Work called at the last minute and I had to cancel."
I stood mute. Trudy asked, "What's your name and how did you know my sister?"
I said: "My name is Justin. I was the first to arrive and found your sister."
Trudy smiled and said: "Your Tarzan. Trudy was diagnosed with intestinal, and stomach cancer. Her trip was her last wish. She loved camping. We both do. Her intestines and stomach were filled with tumors. The doctors speculate when she fell from the tree, the jolt of the rope and her body hitting the tree caused multiple tumors to burst. Coupled with the broken rib which punctured her left lung she was too weak to fight off the sepsis."
I helped Trudy carry Sharon's belongings. I stood in the parking lot and watched Trudy drive off. Numbed by this, I felt guilty when a thought crossed my mind. "I wonder if Trudy is single."