How do you reconcile the urbane with the unbridled? The well-groomed with the untamed? The shade-grown with the sun-weathered?
These are the questions that preoccupy the urban woodsman. This is the man who, yes, is shackled to his laptop due to his vocation — but his heart and facial hair long to run riot amongst dew-soaked, deciduous flora. This is the person who, admittedly, lives in a refurbished undertaker’s office with one exposed brick wall and no tree in sight for at least 23 city blocks. But he longs to erect a spacious canvas tent on a rocky promontory. He longs to hear the tent’s frayed flap whipping in the breeze, giving voice to his newfound freedom. He longs to escape it all — at least on long weekends.
The Hatchet strives to answer the questions that fill the urban woodsman’s mind.
How do we discover the answers? We allow ourselves to be still, unmolested by the whirr of the office photocopier or the gurgle of the Tassimo coffee brewer. We look to our own rich, interior landscapes, knowing that the key to appreciating the landscapes without lies within ourselves. We imagine a forest — the dappled light, the supine curve of saplings weighed down by recent rainfall, the thud of an acorn falling to damp soil. We plug in a pine-scented Glade air freshener. We open a window and try to lure the Peregrine falcon who has been living on the roof of our 14-floor office building onto our desks.
Anything to get a little closer to the wilderness.
The fruits of these labours spill out of this, the cornucopia that is the first issue of The Hatchet. Our cover story tackles an issue that’s close to many readers’ hearts: how to camp without compromise. If you need inspiration to make a grand trek, check out Diego Goldstein’s reflections on the merits of time spent in the wilderness (page three). And if you suspect that you can’t make that trip alone, you’re right: see Arnold Swiffer’s strong case for borrowing your friends’ pets without telling them (page four).
But if you’ve got a lot of freelance design work or blogging on your plate this month and the 20-minute drive to even the closest city green space seems too far, fear not. We’ve discovered an app that allows you to convey your woodsman aesthetic to all your Facebook friends without venturing out of your neighbourhood (above). And you can find some of the most stunning examples of nature’s denizens indoors: see Leif Ferneygo’s meditation on a mammoth in a museum (page three).
And if you’ve ever doubted yourself — wondered if your burning desire to rest your cheek to rough bark is a vestigial sentiment from more atavistic times, useless in the modern world: take heart. Your grandfather would approve of at least 50 per cent of the activities you regularly undertake (page three), and there are plenty of urban woodsmen out there who would love to experience the outdoors with you (Classifieds, at right). Learn what a man can do when he pushes himself to his limits using only a map, a compass and a loincloth (page four), and know that, even during the most solitary stint out of doors, you are not alone.
Join us, dear reader. Feel the faint grit of these newsprint pages. Let the ink soak your fingers like the soot from all the campfires you’ve ever lit with a butane torch. And when you’ve read and reflected on the words in The Hatchet, gently crumple it, stoop to the stones you’ve arranged in a circle, and light one more fire.