Friday, August 28, 2009

This past week the family and I raced off to the Oregon coast for my sister-in-law's wedding. The setting was spectacular. We stayed in a cottage with a huge porch hanging right over the beach; set high enough that the beach combers felt miles away, but close enough that it sounded like the waves would wash right up on the deck. What a great place to sit back with a book and relax to the music of the Pacific Ocean, but alas, I was there for a wedding. If you have been anywhere near the preparations for nuptials you know that there is nothing relaxing about it. It seems the only real moment of tranquility came after the ceremony and celebration were over and the clean up complete, that I sat down in the middle of the deck all alone and watched the blazing amber Sun drop into the Pacific horizon. It is moments like that which seem to put into perspective the bustle of the rest of my life. The fresh ocean breeze, melody of the crashing waves, and a spectacular view. Ahhh, I'm ready for anything now.

Speaking of perspective, I have seen the amazing equipment which we now use to harvest timber from the forest. Compared to centuries past our methods now are incredibly fast, safe and cheap. In our whirlwind trip through Oregon we decided to forgo the beaten path and see the state from the slow roads. This trail brought us to the Logging Museum at Colllier Memorial State Park. What a place; I could have spent hours there gazing at the equipment and envisioning it in use extracting timber more than a hundred years previous. Unfortunately, the rest of the family does not share my enthusiasm. The boys, 7 & 9 years-old, cooled to the outdoor museum nearly as soon as they found out they could not climb and ride the equipment. Heavy equipment in action is way cool, just sitting there doing nothing, not so much. Even my thirteen-year-old daughter, who can hold interest in just about anything, checked out after I explained in minute detail the technique, dangers and difficulty of skidding logs with a steam tractor.

Despite the family's lack of enthusiasm it was quite the experience to see the equipment which harvested the timber to build the structures which are now ready for deconstruction, and that same wood redirected to companies like HistoricWoods for remilling into something which would appeal to today's designs. For me, scampering through a maze of logging equipment was as invigorating as those few moments on the deck watching the setting Sun. It was a stunning reminder of how far we have come, and how far we have to go. Those loggers of a hundred years ago removed the timber as fast as they could with no regard for what the long term effect of their actions would be; with such a vast amount of forest land it must have never occurred to them the damage they could do. It took the rest of the century to figure it out and put the brakes on over harvesting. I guess it was fortunate that it was so hard, compared to today, to get the wood out of the forest. I shuddered to think of the damage we could do with today's technology and a century old mentality of disregard for the ecological system that keeps us alive...but, then I remembered there are places in the world where it is happening.

So, after my refreshment at the coastal sunset and perspective adjustment at the logging museum, I go back to work, more invigorated to promote the actions of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle when it comes to the timber resources of the world, and to give people the options to do these things.

Kyle Moon