Box 721

#11 Willow Lane, Henderson Cr

Dawson City, YT

Y0B 1G0 

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axeandcrocus@gmail.com

(867) 993 - 3561 

  • Georgia Hammond

Alder Wood you need.

I'm following my dad down a steep bank onto a frozen creek just a short snowmobile ride from where he lives, as usual he's outpacing me. He's telling me about his friend Ronnie MacPhee, who used to make the same joke every time they went out wood gathering for smoking fish: "alder wood you need". He says it used to drive him nuts, because he always knew it was coming.

We're gathering Alder for smoking salt, it's a pleasant day in late January, probably only about ten below. Alders grow along the sides of waterways all over the Yukon, and are easily accessible in winter. Where the banks are eroding some of the trees are already starting to lean into the water, these are ideal for our purposes, still green but not likely to be missed in the forest if we remove them. We cut down about five small trees, the biggest one maybe 10 or 12 centimetres in diameter. My dad goes ahead of me with the chainsaw and cuts the trees down, my job is to bring the logs back to the side of the creek where the snowmobile is parked and toss them up onto the road to be gathered when we leave.

Once they're all secured in the skimmer it's just a short ride back to the yard for the next step. Dad uses a table saw to cut the lengths into mini logs, which I then chop into quarters with a hatchet. There's a rhythm to our little backyard wood chip factory, and the alder makes a very satisfying pop! as the logs split easily into manageable chunks. Alder is lovely, it's a beautiful colour with even rings and is surprisingly smooth along the split edges.

This process last about an hour and then we start packing the wood chunks into boxes, bins, milk crates, whatever we can find to get it back to my house. I will leave it in a big box next to my wood stove so it can dry out over the next couple days before I start using it.

By the time we're done we realize our five little trees have produced an awful lot of smoking material, I should be set until the end of summer. As I'm loading the last box into the car my dad gets a silly grin on his face, puts his hand on his hip, I know exactly what's coming, "well, that should be the Alder wood you need right there".

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