Have An Axe To Grind


Hey Mike, you’ve got to get yourself an axe. Everyone around here has an axe, and all the men chop their own wood for their fires. I know you’re new here, you probably don’t know how to do any of that sort of stuff, but I can help you get started in the beginning.

Well, I did exactly what Joe told me to. I went out, found an axe at the corner store, and brought it back in my new—well, new to me—Chevy Silverado. I’m new to the area and let me just say, it’s a lot harder to meet people up here in the wilderness. If it weren’t for my wife, Lisa, I don’t think I would’ve met any of our neighbors until the snow melted—and who knows when that might be? We just moved up here to Elk Rapids, and it’s much more isolated than either one of us expected.

Lisa met Joe’s wife at the market in Traverse City, Michigan, about 20 miles South of our town. They got to talking and I guess Joe’s wife sensed our awkward struggle to adjust to life up here in Northern Michigan, and the very next day both Joe and his wife showed up at our door with some treats from the Elk Rapids Sweet Shop. After they’d come in and warmed up, the women left Joe and I in the kitchen so we could “talk shop”, or whatever they call it.

Joe gave me lots of advice about the lifestyle of Northern Michigan, especially about how to beat the bone-chilling cold. He offered to help me sharpen the blade of my axe once I’d bought one, and all I had to do was stop by his house. Our guests— our new friends—left and Lisa and I felt a lot better about our new life together. I bought an axe two days later, and I couldn’t wait to see Joe again and to learn a couple more “tricks of the trade”.

Well, it’s been four weeks since I bought that axe and I still haven’t heard back from Joe. I’ve tried to catch him at his house, at the market, at the nearest bait store, Butch’s Tackle and Marine, but I haven’t had any luck running into him. I thought I saw him a couple weeks ago at the Work Boots Superstore, but when I called out to him, the man just briskly walked away.

At first, I thought this was a common problem in a small town like Elk Rapids, but I now realize that Joe’s been avoiding me this entire time. What a guy! He offers to help, then the second you try to take him up on the offer, he goes out of his way not to see you. I’m very frustrated, and frankly, I’m a little hurt by the whole ordeal. I talked to Lisa and she’s encouraged me to talk to Joe about it and let him know that I have a problem with the way he’s been avoiding me. I don’t like confrontation, but it seems like—


As he wrote, Mike looked out the window and he almost couldn’t believe his eyes. Out in the snow, walking through the forest on the West side of his house, he spotted Joe. Mike knew it was him because of his red-brown jacket, and his navy, fur-lined hat. As Mike fumbled to grab his own hat and jacket, he ran outside to the shed to grab his axe before headed into the woods to find Joe. Mike saw him through some trees and yelled, “Hey, Joe! Wait up, will ya? I’ve got an axe to grind with you, buddy!”


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