In Our Own Backyard...Cut thine own wood
When I was a little girl my aunt had a sign on the wall of her sun porch that said, "Cut thine own wood and it will twice warm thee." I guess I wasn't exactly the sharpest crayon in the box at that point because I had to ponder it for quite some ...
When I was a little girl my aunt had a sign on the wall of her sun porch that said, "Cut thine own wood and it will twice warm thee." I guess I wasn’t exactly the sharpest crayon in the box at that point because I had to ponder it for quite some time before reaching that "Ah ha!" moment where I truly understood what it meant. Then, I thought it was pretty cool, and I've always remembered it since that day.
Since our family always burned wood in our fireplace, the truth of that old adage has never been lost on me.
My dad had a philosophy that the wealth of a man could be measured in the size of his wood pile. My mom, on the other hand, had her own take on it. She'd always say that whenever my dad was mad at her, he'd go out and chop wood.
"We had the highest woodpile in the neighborhood!" she joked (but since my sister and I never saw our parents fight, I'm tempted to embrace the former point of view!).
I never personally split wood with an ax. When I was living at home, that was my dad's duty, and my husband's after that. But every once in a while when we had an especially large pile of wood to cut up, we'd rent a splitter for the day to make short work of it. Then everyone could participate in some way, and it was a lot of fun.
A couple of weekends ago my husband, Ken, and I did just that. We had three cords of wood to split before winter, and not a lot of time to do it. So we rented a log splitter for the weekend and set to work.
To start with, Ken and I rotated duties. First, he’d split the wood and I'd load it up and stack it in the woodshed. After a while we'd swap. And though it was a noisy business, we soon fell into an easy rhythm that was actually quite enjoyable.
Not only was it satisfying to watch the size of the woodpile go down and the woodshed fill up, but there was something that was esthetically pleasing about working with the wood itself.
Part maple and part oak, every log had its own character and substance. Some of them were straight and dense, and they'd split along the grain with a satisfying "snap!" almost as soon as the blade of the splitter bit into them.
Others had giant knots in them that sometimes caused the blade to ride up on the log so it had to be repositioned and started all over again. At other times, the splitter blade would hit one of the knots and shatter the log into many odd-sized pieces.
Every once in a while there'd be a piece that was particularly fine, one that split straight down the middle into two perfect halves.
At times like that, we'd look up at each other and grin and one of us would yell over the sound of the splitter, "Nice log!" - a little like two fisherman out in the boat who utter "Nice fish!" after one of them hauls in a big one.
We had started out the brisk autumn morning in jeans and sweatshirts, but as the sun rose higher in the sky and the day began to heat up, we had to head inside to change into shorts and T-shirts. Then we settled back into the pleasant monotony of splitting wood.
What seemed like a gargantuan task to begin with slowly began to diminish, until all that was left of the pile of wood in the driveway was a collection of bark and sawdust. We swept that up, packed up the splitter and put it away for the day.
The woodshed was filled pretty much to capacity and we stared at it with pride, thinking of all the warmth the wood would provide throughout the long, cold winter ahead.
We were hot and grimy as we sipped ice water in the heat of the afternoon, but a feeling of profound satisfaction crept over us.
"Well, since we worked so hard I think we deserve to do something fun tonight," Ken said. "Any suggestions?"
I thought for a moment and grinned. "I know - let's have a fire!"