Britta Arendt

A big golden axe attached to a wooden plaque has a special place in my office. For three years, it’s been a striking fixture above my desk. Many people who come to visit me are immediately taken aback and have to ask. 

Three years ago, Dr. Lee Jess called me with a proposition. In his always energetic and encouraging approach, Dr. Jess wanted to know if I could help him revive the Tall Timber Days Media Competition. He said it would be a relay and he hoped the Herald-Review could put together a team of two to compete. He told me he was going to get teams from the radio and TV stations, too. 

I said, “Sure, sign up the newspaper!”

A few days before Tall Timber Days weekend, I went around the office looking for someone who might be willing to join me in the relay event which involves the buck-saw, logging rolling and a log pile sprint. I had absolutely NO takers. Everyone seemed to be quite busy that weekend. So, I went home to my husband.

“Would you wanna join me in this silly thing?” I asked him. In fact, I think I remember promising him dinner out if he were to say, “yes.” But that didn’t matter, he was on board at the get-go! This would be a piece of cake for the man who spends every fall filling our woodshed. 

From the moment I hung up with Dr. Jess, the nerves set in. “What was I thinking?” Then, when no one from my office would step up, I thought, “what am I going to do now?” But, when my dear hubby said he’d be there with me, I knew everything was going to be OK. 

Up on the Lumberjack Show stage in front of a crowd of familiar and unfamiliar faces is terrifying to start. Then they give you a very intimidating large, silver sharp saw and you’re given 30 seconds of instructions before they blow a whistle. 

We grasped those handles, looked at each other and worked that saw back and forth without many snags at all. The rest of the relay was a breeze, and before we knew it we were announced the winners. 

Exhilarated and out of breath, the two of us felt on top of the world. It wasn’t an Olympic race, or even a marathon or 5K we had completed. No, it was just silly lumberjack fun! But we earned that big, beautiful golden axe as well as a new appreciation for each other - and our team. It was cute to watch our kids sitting in the bleachers cheering and taking photos.  

This weekend, my husband and I will attempt to defend our title and our trophy for the fourth consecutive year. As I look back on the years I’ve stood up on that stage, saw in hand, with him (as an auxiliary employee of the Herald-Review if only for the day), I’m super proud.

I’m definitely thrilled with our continued ‘Jack n’ Jill’ success at cutting through that log. However, I’m most happy with the lengths we’ve come in our marriage to overcome the choppy times; to work back and forth between each other to pull things through. 

If we happen to relinquish that impressive golden axe this year, I promise not to cry. Because I won the biggest prize 20 years ago when I married my partner in red plaid - my best friend, my sweetheart, my soulmate. 

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