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The sawdust flew. A slightly sweet fragrance floated in the immediate area. It was a sweet but subtle aroma, neither the scent of pine nor willow, but one from the past that had been forgotten, only to reappear now after all these years, fresher than ever. The workmen occasionally scooped up a handful of sawdust, which they put into their mouths and swallowed. Before that they had chewed on pieces of green bark that they had stripped from the cut wood. It had the same fragrance and it freshened their mouths, so at first that was what they had used. Now even though they were no longer chewing the bark with which they felt such a bond, the stack of corded wood was a very appealing sight. From time to time they gave the logs a friendly slap or kick. Each time they sawed off a section, which rolled to the ground from the sawhorse, they would say:’Off with you – go over there and lie down where you belong.’What they were thinking was that big pieces of lumber like this should be used to make tables or chairs or to repair a house or make window frames; wood like this was hard to find.But now they were cutting it into kindling to be burned in stoves, a sad ending for good wood like this. They could see a comparison with their own lives, and this was a saddening thought. (“North China”)

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