The axeman

So far as I am aware, there is yet no law against carrying an axe openly around the city; or a concealed hatchet for that matter. A broadaxe might get you stares on the trolley, but only brief, silent, and thoughtful ones. Whereas, a gun — even an innocent hunting rifle — would be a problem anywhere in the Greater Parkdale Area. The police are increasingly well-armed, but among the citizens, only criminals are allowed “to carry” in these parts. (Of course, we could discuss my use of the word, “allowed.”) Gun clubs and gun ranges have been made unwelcome, too, within city limits. This may be among the reasons the military, nowadays, can forget about recruiting in most urban areas: for the city boys have grown up fey, and show the product of indoctrination, to the effect that war is hard on children and animals.

Truth to tell, there is very little use for an axe, almost anywhere in a modern conurbation. I am unfamiliar with the minutiae, but was told by an interested party that wood-burning stoves are now verboten, not as fire risk but thanks to “air quality standards.” The Smuglies (my short, affectionate term for our ruling class of affectedly nice, self-consciously “progressive” people, who live almost entirely off our tax money) often suffer from asthma, and it appears to be triggered by the sight of anyone smoking a cigarette. The idea of a wood stove threatens them by analogy. Barbecues are still permitted, but only for people in single dwellings with back yards (i.e. above a certain income level).

One does not need an axe for a barbecue, I suppose, unless one has seriously tired of its appearance. Ditto, with other household furniture and appliances. I think of a young Czech friend who was being shown a flat which contained a shoddy built-in “shelving unit,” of an exceptionally painful colour. The landlord said he could re-paint it.

“Why don’t we paint it with an axe,” my friend suggested.

We had only the one modest hatchet up here in the High Doganate, used only once since moving in, and then only the poll, as a mallet. It was a small (15-inch), modestly curved single-bit affair, with a plumpish profile: a good compromise about equally efficient for cutting, splitting, or shaping. Left only with this one tool, a skilled axeman could fell trees and build a log cabin (starting, perhaps, with the sculpting of a longer haft). Our pioneers, in the woods of Canada, were very particular about their axes. Many a Loyal pioneer began as a man of one axe, and it would have become his most valuable possession (after his Bible had been memorized).

Alas, I gave my hatchet as a gift to a friend who was moving upcountry. (I lack prudence and foresight, sometimes.) But more axes are available in the flea markets, much better than I have seen in any chain hardware franchise, and I will obtain another in due course.

Meanwhile, I have retained a fairly manly Chinese cleaver, in forged iron that will hold an edge, that would serve for a hatchet should some sudden need arise.