2018-01-16 / Outdoor Life

Well, I Suppose…

By Ryan Trapani

When I woke up this morning, it was cold. I could feel the tug-of- war match between cold air out­side battling with last night’s cool­ing woodstove. Walking down the hallway, I could feel that cold air creeping in. “I guess I gambled wrongly on how much wood to put in,” I thought to myself. It’s like a game choosing the “right amount.” I don’t want to put too little or everyone will be cold; too much and the kids will be sweat­ing in their sleep. When I kiss their wet foreheads on those nights, I know I put too much in. Today tells me “too little.”

Those first sticks of wood that go into the stove seem to do so little at first. Cold air is usher­ing in and seems to laugh at my purpose; it takes a while for the wood to get real hot and throw off some heat. I look outside and this morning it’s 5 below zero. The snow seems to sparkle. The sun is just rising on the other side of the house creating shadows on my side. Sure enough, I see shadows of smoke and steam billowing out the chimney. The chimney’s silhouette comes into focus and I can see those heat shadows ris­ing more clearly now as dark, psy­chedelic streaks amongst the cold snowy ground. Heat is on its way.

My eyes are mesmerized by the shadowy streaks for a while. I think about the word “shadows.” A “shadow” tells us something is there, something behind the shadow, enough to leave its mark. On this morning, I think of one man’s shadow and how he left his mark. His shadow was larger than most. His shadow could be seen in some hollow filled with gin­seng or ridgeline chasing a buck track. His shadow could be seen intertwined with a falling tree, or skidding logs out with his skidder. His shadow seemed always there helping someone out; plowing a neighbor’s driveway, inside at a town board meeting, shining through a cloud of evaporated maple sap, or greeting you for your breakfast sandwich and cof­fee with a “Hey Ryan.”

Guys like Jake Rosa leave large shadows. Jake’s laugh could fill up all of Dry Brook. I realized this morning that our mountains were less full and missing Jake’s shad­ow. Breakfast wasn’t the same. Our board meeting wasn’t the same. The forest isn’t the same. I know his close friends – which he had many of – realize it’s not the same. The world could use more Jake Rosas, and we just lost the only one. I’ll miss talking with Jake. I remember at the end of each conversation, he would look down and say, “Well, I sup­pose…” That was cue for he was leaving; normally to some­where in the woods that needed cutting. Without warning, we lost Jake suddenly. It seemed I wasn’t the only one who misses Jake’s shadow; hun­dreds – if not a thou­sand – showed up at Jake’s funeral services. Jake Rosa sat on the boards of Catskill For­est Association, Wa­tershed Agricultural Council, NY Logger Training, and town of Middletown. He was a Father, Hunter and – more importantly – just an all-around good-guy who seemed comfortable and happy with his life in the Catskill Moun­tains. Jake was literally from the forest; he breathed it, lived it, and cherished it. We’ll all miss you Jake; in the forest and outside of it.

Ryan Trapani is the of Director of Catskill Forest Services (CFA);

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