Ode to the Keech

  • August 09, 2015
  • Posted by Levi Ballard

On the most recent hitch from which my crew returned, we worked side-by-side with a Forest Service trail crew in order to reroute a section of trail.  This was a wonderful experience for numerous reasons, not least of which being that they were good people and fun to be around, each bringing their own unique experience to our crew.  The work was our hardest of the season, but also the most rewarding.  There were two tasks to be done: clear corridor and dig tread. Each task had its merits, but I preferred the clearing.  I preferred the clearing because I had fallen in love with a piece of USFS property.  It was an old racing axe made by the Australian company Keech, and I have never used a better tool.  I doubt that a better tool has been made since, as Keech no longer makes axes. It seems that I am not the only one buying into the “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” mentality, as the going rate for this particular axe on Ebay is just South of $700.  So like any rational woodsman, instead of buying one, I wrote a poem about it:

Ode to the Keech

a more perfect tool was never made
than that three foot handle and its 5 pound blade.
like a knife moves through butter she made her way through wood,
chopping faster than i knew that she could.
after each log is finished, on her pole do i lean,
catching my breath before we reconvene.
together we form a most perfect couple
my leather gloves and her sheath so supple.

on to the next once i regain my breath
bringing this log a quick and clean death.
man and machine battling nature
onward we move, acre by acre.
without the Keech i would surely be conquered,
facing such logs with only my loppers.
i swing, wood flies, and sweat flows down my brow,
in no place or time but the here and the now.

there is nothing quite like the right tool for the chore:
try paddling a boat without any oars.
the Keech and i, doing our worst
seeking to quench her unquenchable thirst.
onward forever we are doomed to wander
lest her perfection should ever be squandered.
i must soon come to terms with my infinite fate,
for the Keech and i have an upcoming date.


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