Someone chainsawed a hackberry limb into fireplace lengths and left them at the curb. I watched these logs for a week. Every time I walked past, the stained heartwood at the cut ends looked like something different: a maple leaf, a cranesbill leaf, the foot of a gull, a Rorschach test. They reminded me of polymer clay, when you wrap noodles of color inside a contrast color, and then slice. Or like cloissonné. Or like pinwheel cookie dough.
If we’d had a working fireplace, I’d have taken them that first day, though it was 7 degrees and though the handle of our Radio Flyer would have frozen my hands.
But we don’t so I didn’t.
Maybe I could take a few pieces for the BBQ pit? We could roast marshmallows. Hackberry burns well, I’ve read. It “burns like Ash,” people wrote, back when Ash trees weren’t dying faster than science can slow.
Or maybe I could steal a few pieces for the brushpile? A thick chunk could stand upright and hold a saucer of seed near the birdbath.
Or maybe I could borrow Mom’s chainsaw and cut tree cookies? With that dark bark, pale sapwood and those center stains, I’d have a stack of giant Millefiori beads—which I’ve never liked in Italian glass, but in Tree, well, that’s different.
Oh yes: big hackberry beads to arrange in the yard, as a border, as a path!
But, the Metro chipper truck came this morning and ate the lot.
Was it gift enough that I got to ogle the logs and daydream and what-if and take a photo?
Next time—and here in the Hackberry Capital of the World there will be a next time—I’ll drive by and load them in the car that minute.