Eldon Hanning Ash Harvest Video Transcript

Visual: A forest canopy with blue sky behind it. The leaves are blowing in the wind.

Sound: Wind blowing through leaves.

Visual: A large man (Eldon Hanning) in a black cowboy hat stands on a forest road with a chainsaw held on his shoulder. He looks around at the trees blowing in the wind.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: Ya hear the trees? Ya hear that distinctive sound? That’s the wind blowing through the ash down there. Yeah it’s nice down here and I enjoy it. But you wouldn’t think that you could hear it but after a while you do. Or maybe its just psychological, or whatever. But I can sit here and I can hear it. Yeah, I can hear the trees.

Visual: An image of Eldon standing in the woods combined with an image of an ash pack basket with black straps. Text reads: Eldon Hanning: Micmac Ash Harvest.

Visual: Video of Eldon in the forest looking around and pointing at different aspects of his surroundings.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: Now, when you’re selecting your tree, you have to look at the area you are in, okay. Now, this area that we are in you can see all the ash trees around here. All these trees that we see there is something I don’t like about them. So if you will follow me I will show you the trees. Down here there is one right here ahead of us.

Visual: Eldon takes off his hat and looks up at an ash tree before looking around and pointing at a specific spot.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: Now, it’s a good tree, it’s got good limbs on it, and it’s got a slight bow. We are going to try and drop down in there.

Visual: Eldon using a chainsaw to cut down the ash tree. He then measures the log and uses the saw to cut it to length.

Voice of Eldon Hanning over the sound of a chainsaw: I like to harvest logs, the middle of September, and November because that is when the trees are losing their leaves and they’re soaking up the water. They soak up the water to store it for the wintertime. My father would go out and cut, and when he would cut, he would go around and look at the trees and never explain nothing, but he would turn around and look it up and down, and see what was good and right, and what was bad. After a while you get a feeling that when you walk out and you look at all the trees around here, there’s… you know, you can pick the difference, ya know.

That’s a pretty log, right there, that will give me 18 feet. Each log will give me enough wood to probably make 30 baskets.

Visual: Eldon standing next to the cut end of the ash tree. He points to the circle of light-colored wood just under the bark of the tree, then the darker wood in the center of the cut end of the log.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: Now the white on this is very thin, I may not be able to use this for other basket makers, I may but I don’t think so. The majority of what I will use is the brown wood for other basket makers. About 2 1/2 inches of brown wood on this cut.

Visual: Eldon looks around the forest and points to trees.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: Now out of all these 200 trees I cut 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, 7 trees out of over 200 trees.

Visual: Video fades between Eldon standing in the forest speaking and images of a metallic emerald green beetle and beetle bore-holes through wood.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: The emerald ash borer… Have I seen any? No. I haven’t seen any. Am I concerned about it? Yes I am. Because right now I understand it’s up around New York, up state New York area. And when they start flying and getting ready to reproduce, They get caught on a good wind, they can travel maybe 20 miles or more in a day.

Visual: Eldon uses a small hatchet and a large wooden mallet to split the log from the end while he talks.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: Cutting on peoples’ property is, it’s hard sometimes. But other times, if they’re Aroostook county people it’s no problem. The problem is, of getting the wood to cut, from people from out of state. People that buy farms or buy land in Northern Maine here, they turn around and go “Well, I bought the land and so it’s my wood and I don’t want nobody on it.” So they post it. You can’t make people realize that before they came here the farmers that you were cutting from would let you cut ash for making baskets.

Visual: Eldon walking down the forest road with his chainsaw over his shoulder.

Voice of Eldon Hanning: I enjoy doing this, this is the easy part walking out of the woods. This is about the easiest part there is.


Featuring: Eldon Hanning, Jason Duplessis.

A Collaboration of: The Hudson Museum and the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance.

Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance is supported in part by: Artography, a grant program of Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), funded by the Ford Foundation.

Video Documentation Provided By: ASAP Media Service (Mike Scott, Alexander Gross, Yeshe Parks, Will Seyffer, Justin Taylor).

Millie Rahn, Folklorist.

Hudson Museum: Gretchen Faulkner, Director; Stephen Bicknell, Still Photographer.

Emerald ash borer photographs by David Cappaert of Michigan State University, courtesy of www.forestryimages.org.

Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Also made possible by The University of Maine.