The face of disappointment

Competitor in wood-chopping competition, Helensville A&P Show, New Zealaned. Image: Su Leslie, 2017.

Axeman taking part in standing block wood-chopping competition at Helensville A&P Show. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The Big T and I visited the Helensville A&P (Agricultural & Pastoral) Show at the weekend.

Agriculture is a hugely important part of New Zealand’s history, economy and psyche, and  A&P Shows are a traditional way small towns up and down the country celebrate farming and rural life.

One of my favourite A&P attractions is wood-chopping. And no, I can’t explain why a city girl who has never used an axe to do much more than chop kindling can sit for hours and watch a bunch of men cut through logs of wood as a sport. But I can!

I think part of the attraction is simplicity. While rugby, soccer, etc all seem to have incredibly complex rules, wood-chopping is easy to understand. The first person to cut the block in two wins. Even allowing for the handicap system (a man with a microphone counting off the seconds before each competitor can start), it’s comprehensible even to me. And no offside rule!

The face of disappointment. A young axeman fails to place in a wood-chopping competitition at the Helensville A&P Show. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The face of disappointment. No placing for this wood-chopping competitor. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Axemen may not be regarded as sports superstars, but they seem equally dedicated to their sport. And the disappointment they feel in failure is no less real or painful to watch.

Contemplating the loss. Pensive and disappointed-looking competitor in wood-chopping at Helensville A&P Show. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Contemplating the loss. Competitor in wood-chopping at Helensville A&P Show. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

“All that is in the heart is written on the face” — Ritu Ghatourey

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

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23 thoughts on “The face of disappointment

    • I managed to hit send/reply before I was done. You captured the feeling of disappointment well, Su. My husband played rugby for a number of years and there really are a number of rules, although you’d never know to see it. It looks more like someone tossed a ball out and said, “Do whatever you have to or want to.” 🙂

      janet

      Liked by 1 person

      • I find rugby confusing and frustrating in equal measure. I’m aware of the rules, and they seem to break up the play so it always feels bitsy. And of course, it’s “the national game” here, so it’s taken waay too seriously. Basketball is pretty much the only mainstream sport I can watch. There aren’t too many players to confuse me, it’s played inside so I can stay warm and have a coffee and, until recently anyway, we had a great team locally that the boy-child and I used to go and watch pretty regularly.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Abstraction (Hope in a Photographic Puzzle*) | Lens and Pens by Sally

  2. The log chopping is the one event I do not miss at our big Show here in Perth in September. Everything about it, the men are so silent and focussed, the time keeper so dispassionate, the commentator talking about the progress of the individuals; it feels masculine and old-fashioned and stable. There is nothing showy about the blokes, they just do it. The highlight last year, was 4 boys, the youngest was about 10, the eldest looked about 15 (he didn’t win), they were so careful with their axes and the three older boys cheered on the youngest as he completed his log, everyone was so happy for him 🙂

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    • Yes; that’s exactly it. It isn’t glitzy or showy, and there is a really positive, nurturing vibe. I’ve watched the young ones take their turn too, and it is wonderful to see them so focused and so encouraged by the older ones. It’s such a contrast with other sports I’ve been involved with. I still shudder remembering fist fights and verbal abuse amongst parents at my son’s soccer games. This is when he was still a pre-teen. Give me wood-chopping any day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think so too. But there’s another competition where they have to chop out a series of notches in a large upright log, putting a plank in each notch on the way up to stand on while they chop the next notch until they get close enough to the top to chop the final bit right off. That’s probably not a very good explanation, but it ends up with men swinging axes about 8 feet in the air while standing on a flimsy plank. That’s truly scary!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mmmh, I think I share your fondness of that sport… 😉 There´s something hypnotizing about men chopping wood…maybe it´s because of our earliest genetic memories 😉 It´s always good to have a man around able to keep you warm 😉
    Love the quote!

    Liked by 1 person

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