Logging in Shrewsbury, Vermont

My Dad bought ninety acres of land in Shrewsbury, Vermont in 1963. It was at the end of Tabor Road in the shadow of Saltash Mountain. When he and my mother moved to Vermont in 1970, they briefly thought of building a house there, but they arrived during mud season, Vermont’s fifth season, axle-deep in mud. They quickly decided to look for a house down in the valley, settling in the town of Brandon, forty miles to the north. Over the years we would picnic at the land or sometimes camp in a meadow.  As they years went by, the forests became thick, mostly with spruce and fir. A hundred years ago Vermont was three quarters open land, cleared of trees for farming. Today just the opposite is true with most of the land covered in forests. Sustainable forests provide jobs, fuel for heating, wood products and improved wildlife habitat.

We often thought of logging the land, but never took action. Finally a few years ago we hired foresters Galen and Andy Hutchison to draw up a forest plan and mark trees to harvest. They contracted with Shrewsbury logger Gary Martin to do the work with his son Tim. Not only does Gary have a good reputation, he is also a neighbor, living just down the road from the land. With the addition of a temporary logging road, it becomes easier to walk the land, see its small streams, a stone wall, an old homestead foundation and to look more clearly up towards Saltash Mountain.



In 1992 and 1995 I lived in Zimbabwe, studying at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare for one year of my college years. I had taken an African History course at San Francisco State University and was fascinated by the history of Southern Africa, particularly Zimbabwe and its struggle for independence from white-minority rule. I loved Bob Marley’s song “Zimbabwe”. In 1992, I became friends with Don Kachuwa, his brother Gilbert, sister Perpetual and the rest of the Kachuwa family. Like many Zimbabweans, they had a house in the capital city and a house in the countryside, their ancestral home. I traveled with them to their home in Murewa and got a glimpse of life in the Zimbabwean countryside. The Kachuwas were farmers who owned a general store that served as a social and business center for the surrounding community of farmers. In 1995 I went back to live in Zimbabwe for another year, this time as a volunteer photographer at Horizon Magazine with an organization called Visions in Action. The last time I went to Zimbabwe was in 2000 for a month. The economy had started to crumble and President Robert Mugabe had encouraged the takeover of white-owned farms, which had been the engine of the economy. AIDS was a devastating epidemic, destroying many communities. This was the last time I saw the Kachuwa family. Last year I was deeply saddened to hear that both Don and Gilbert had passed away, following their brothers Lucky and Shakey before them. I miss them greatly and hope that one day Zimbabwe will be free and strong again.



Don Kachuwa, Harare, Zimbabwe

Gilbert Kachuwa, Murewa, Zimbabwe

Gilbert and Don Kachuwa, Murewa, Zimbabwe

Murewa, Zimbabwe

Murewa, Zimbabwe

Harare, Zimbabwe