............THE FOREST






A Christmas Carol -
Logging Camp Style

T here’s something sort of nice about the downtown of a big city on Christmas eve. Last minute shoppers are dashing about, suddenly remem-bering a gift for Aunt Sophie or old Farnsworth the mailman. There’s a newborn niceness in car drivers and store clerks, and the sounds of Christmas from the Sally Ann bells and the recorded Christmas carols coming from store fronts, is a once-a-year pleasure.
....Well and good my pavement friends, but did you ever spend Christmas eve in an up-coast logging camp? You haven’t! Then you haven’t tasted all the delights that the forest around us can provide.
....Take a nice lonely inlet out on the west coast – so close to the wild Pacific that you can hear the roar of the surf three miles away when the big winter-time southeasters blow in from Japan. Put a small community logging camp up the inlet a ways and a small quiet fishing village near the inlet’s protected mouth. The camp has closed down for the Christmas holidays and the bunkhouse lads have gone to their homes and people down south. Only eight or 10 families remain in the camp and their homes are all decorated with the usual outdoor Christmas lights.
....It’s mid-day on Christmas Eve and turkeys are going in ovens and trimmin’s are getting fixin’s! And as is sometimes usual in this west coast camp, it is raining and blowing.
....The fishing village is quiet, as it spreads itself along the waterfront. There’s a three plank boardwalk and hand rail running the length of the half-mile village along the high tide mark. The houses of the village are all adjacent to the boardwalk. The southeaster is whipping up in the inlet and rain is coming down slantways. The winds sway the trees behind the camp.
....As the afternoon wears on, the family houses lay quiet in the rains. Some will have their big turkey dinner today and others will wait until Christmas day. It


approaches five and darkness has settled in for the stormy night. One family moves out of their house and, well clothed in slickers and raincoats, heads for their neighbour’ house. They stand outside the back door with flashlights in hand and suddenly the stormy night is filled with “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” Faces appear in the doorway – small ones first – then two larger smiling ones. The wind howls and the carolers sing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”
....Come in, come in out of the rain – and in they march to bit of warmth ex-ternally and internally. The children pass small gifts to each other. It’s cozy in the house and the storm is not thought of.
....Time to move on to the next neighbour and everyone dons their raingear and heads outdoors into the slanting rain. Finally, gathered at the next neighbour, the enlarged group of carolers strike up “Silent Night,” which in fact has become a very noisy night. After two more songs the singers are invited into the house.
....As each house is sung to the carolers grow in size until, at the last one, a group of about 20 raise their voices over the sounds of the southeaster. The last house is crowded with Christmas wishes and the happiness of everyone.
....Someone shouts – “It’s time for the boat trip to the village – let’s go!” Coats and gumboots and scarves and rain hats and flashlights and slickers are sorted out and the crowd – kids, adults and dogs, moves out and walks down the road to the dock.
....The tug has been warmed up and children are given life-belts and a sturdy skiff is towed behind. With running lights glowing and the searchlight tested, the little ship, with its passengers of carolers heads out into the black night following the channel and picking up familiar rock points with the searchlight. A three mile trip – one that has been traveled hundreds of times – but one that is never taken for granted on such a night as this.


....Soon, as they round an island, the lights of the little fishing village appear. The waters are choppy but the tug glides through on its faithful diesel. Songs are still being sung as the boat comes to a stop a hundred feet from the village dock.
....Then the searchlight is played on the village. The loggers, their wives and children and some friends stand on the large aft deck and sing to the village. The southeaster howls, the rain comes from all directions, the tug rocks a bit, but the fishing village is sung to, by the loggers. It’s “Silent Night” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” The tug then maneuvers its way to the dock where some people of the village are gathered. Great Merry Christmas’s are hollered and one-by-one, every-one goes ashore to the fish buyers home for a little time out from the storm.
....The final visit is to Max and Lucy’s house – the old timers – for here the crowd of now 40 or so loggers and fishing folk crowd their way into the oldest home in the village to view the lighting up of Max’s tree.” It’s a seven foot fir tree, nicely decorated – but with old-fashioned real candles on it. The children look on in awe and they will remember this event.
....The house is packed – but the carols go on – now it’s “Jingle Bells” and “Good King Wenceslas.”
....It’s Christmas Eve far away from the city’s traffic and the rush of shoppers. It’s Christmas Eve in a small community of loggers and fishermen who live on a west coast inlet just around the corner from the Pacific. It’s Christmas Eve in the forest around us.

...................Merry Christmas, friends,
Keep out of the bight,

Bill Moore