Women and Chainsaws First


Penny makes the butter. Photo by Dylan Griffin

I ran before first light this morning, in the gentlest of rain, the surface of the road just visible for just far enough to trust. Though of course I know the road well, know exactly where it dead ends, turns to a farm road, and then a woods road, and then a rutted four-wheeler track. So I guess it doesn’t really dead end, after all. It just shifts purpose.

It had been a while since I’d run, at least a week, maybe more, and I remembered how the last time the air had been full of a gathering snow. Rain. Snow. Rain again. November. The leaves are off the trees. All of them. Funny how I used to think this was an ugly time of year.

I was born in November, a whole bunch of years ago. There was a pretty big snowstorm, or at least that’s what my parents tell me. But you know how parents are about their children’s birthdays. There’s always some drama or another. Me, I like to tell people how the coyotes came hungry to our door in the nights of my sons’ births, and I tossed the placentas into their writhing midst.

Today I work at the farm down the road, siding a barn with my friend John. He’s 24, wears suspenders and smokes hand-rolled cigarettes, logs with horses. Bushy beard. We get on real good, talk about all sorts of things as we work. Animals, music, friends, chainsaws, women, children. But not necessarily in that order.

No, we definitely talk about women and chainsaws first.






26 thoughts on “Women and Chainsaws First”

    1. I was sorta hoping someone would pick up on the Van Halen reference… one of their all time best albums is called “Women and Children First”


  1. As always, excellent.

    Have you read ” Born to Run”? It gets knocked around, but really is an interesting read. Also “Run Gently Out There” is an awesome read. It does a good job of catching the vibe of trail running, to add some hippy to the comments.

    I took up running in middle age, although some would chuckle at my using the term “running”. I go out about every other day, way before dawn, and move slowly through the streets of my small town, and the surrounding countryside.

    It’s as close I will ever get to meditation.

    1. I haven’t, but I’ve certainly heard of it.

      Yeah, I’m more of a “lurcher” myself.

      Stay tuned for my next book: Born to Lurch


  2. Throwing the placenta of your newborn into the writhing midst of drooling coyotes paints a nice image.
    We planted our kids’ placentas under apple trees, which are now bearing fruit like they were fertilized with a miracle potion. Which they were.

    I thought you’d get a kick out of knowing that our middle son was born in a stock tank made for watering cows. We wanted a water birth but refused to pay the crazy price of renting one of those fancy birthing tubs, so we headed to the local farm store and bought us a stock tank.

    It worked just fine, except our hot water tank ran out of water, so we had to heat water on the woodstove to keep the water hot while I labored.

    Luke was born in the water 12 years ago and now is a fantastic fisherman.

    1. I got hung up on the placenta to coyotes part. Will they develop a taste for man flesh? Were you thinking about lifecycles, and animals feeding you from their flesh and returning the favour? Or was it just what you had laying around? Anyway, our kids placentas were always just buried in a friend’s garden- nicknamed “The Placenta Collective”.

  3. The thought had crossed my mind that you were joking!! Then I thought you were just more hard core, so there’s that! Yes- makes for some good storytelling, as always.

  4. OK, stupid question, but is that *really* Penny churning the butter? Somehow I didn’t picture her being as tall as the photo makes her appear. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! 🙂
    Love the “women and chainsaws” first. If my son was older than 11, he and my husband would be saying the same thing…as of right now, they have the chainsaw half, I”m sure the other half will be present in a few years!….

    1. Yes, that’s really her… she’s not that tall… maybe five-foot four-inches or so. And that’s including her head!


  5. I remember a writer for one of the running magazines I read years ago referring to himself and other “back of the pack” folks as penguins. He always ended up his articles with the sign off “Waddle on!” I like your lurching imagery, too.
    Hope you have a wonderful birthday from someone else who was born in November “a whole bunch of ears ago.” The drama around my birth was that my mother attended a Halloween party dressed as Mother Nature and I made my intentions of arriving soon known right at the end of the party around midnight. Not every gathering ends with that kind of excitement.
    Hope you get a wonderful cake made with that butter. Yum! Thanks for another wonderful read.

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