Portrait of a Woodsman
He smelled like a mixture of coffee and pine and a hint of cigarette, his smell clinging to his clothing and hovering in the fresh air around him. His breathe exhaled in puffs of white smoke, visible due to the cold mountain air around him.
He walked slowly, his right hand holding the axe that was balanced on his shoulder and his left pushing the almost leafless branches away from his face and feeling the rough bark with his equally rough and calloused hands. The forest was familiar with him, the animals did not run because they knew he would not hurt them, the trees swayed in the cold breeze over him, bent as though they were protecting him. It was his home, he knew this place like the back of his rough hands, rough from days of hard work on the farm and chopping wood for the fire.
He stopped, bending down to feel the ground around him, knees pressed into the cold earth, almost hard. Winter was coming. He smiled and stood up, running his hand on the tree in front of him. The tree pleased him. It was large and thick, perfect for firewood. He set down his axe and stood up straight, running his hands on the tree, getting a good feel for its shape and texture and size, he used his hands to get to know the tree before he began to cut it down.
He picked up his axe and held it in both of his hands, bringing it back and forth slowly, tapping the sharp edge along the tree, becoming familiar with the weight and his distance from the tree. The axe was brought back slowly and then he pulled it forward and it hit the tree with full force, sending bits of bark flying and leaving a large cut in the side of the tree. He brought it back again and then forward, back and forward, back and forward, creating a larger and larger cut in the tree. Sweat droplets formed on his forehead and he paused to reach up his hand to brush them away, running his hand through his dark brown hair. His blue flannel shirt hung open, revealing the white t-shirt underneath that clung to his sweaty chest and showed his toned stomach. The weather was too cold for him to take his flannel shirt fully off, he knew if he did he would probably freeze, but if he had the muscles in his arms would have been fully visible, not covered by cloth or fat. His skin was a dark tan, formed from many days working in the sun for hours, only pausing for a small drink of water.
He continued to bring his axe back and forth in repetitive strokes until the tree began to creak and he stepped back as it fell to the ground. He smiled at the feeling of a job well done and paused to take a drink out of the small tin container that hung from his belt, not caring as the water drizzled down the sides of his mouth as he drank until it was gone. He sighed as he swallowed the last drop and sat on the fallen tree, lifting his unseeing eyes up to the blue sky.