Past Peak

The vibrant landscape of Fall has passed the peak for the season. From now until the leaves fall, they will be shades of gold and soft cinnamon. The sun is weaker though bright light filtering through the leaves gives a warm glow. At 60, the chores of seasonal preparation are becoming daunting; at least they are when I think about them and consult my endless lists of things to address.


Hoses are rolled and stored for the winter, bird feeders are hung once again to the joy of the chickadees. I am sure the bears and raccoons have not gone into hibernation yet but I will risk it for the sake of seeing the cheery avian population outside my window. The bees are tucked in for the moment.

The weekend was dedicated to ‘getting it done.’ Though I cannot see my neighbors homes, the sound of leaf blowers, tractors, chain saws and wood splitters created an orchestra of preparedness with the aroma of wood smoke. I had called in all my favors and enlisted Hanni, B., and Wilson to help with the really heavy lifting. I promised lunch for three hours of labor.


The infamous wood pile wasn’t making it into the garage by itself and I was down to my last load in the backroom. While I waited for my crew to arrive, I swept and prepped the garage for the incoming logs. They say wood heats you twice; once when you are splitting and stacking, and a second time when you burn it. When everyone assembled and was fed a quick snack of bagels, we set to work. Wilson had brought his tractor to move the logs to the splitting area. There, dueling log splitters hammered away at the pile.

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The stacks grew; both around the splitters and slowing along the wall inside the garage. It is messy work. Bark flies, splitters are a threat regardless of how thick a glove you wear, and odd creatures appear. First it was a small, orange newt that B. rescued and displayed with pride. We found some damp leaf litter to release it with a wish it can survive. Next Hanni found a truly ugly and disturbing spider. It was tan, with a large body about the size of a lima bean. It’s legs were absurdly long and jointed but it was the fangs it gnashed at us that were so off-putting. She kindly took it to the edge of the woods for release.

I sent Hanni and B off an hour or so after lunch. They had put in more than the requested three hours and I thought Wilson and I could finish up the rest. At 5 that night, I placed the last logs on the pile. My back was screaming from the bending and lifting and I knew Wilson must have been equally sore as he beat a hasty retreat home for a hot bath and his bed. I fear I may be past peak for this level of athleticism. The doing of the chores are never as hard as the thought before hand. There is a rhythm to the wood process and once in tune with the work, it doesn’t seem strenuous, until you stop.


It’s impossible to tell in the photo, but the pile is two and a half rows deep, about 2.5 cords of warmth. This wood is perfectly cured. As I sat next to the roaring fireplace later, I was pleased that it lit easily then burned slow and hot. Perhaps the misery of the logging operation did have its benefits…



25 thoughts on “Past Peak

  1. Ah, Ms. Bunyan! Good to see you back from summer vacation! Enjoy your hard work, crackling fires, toastie living room…hope you lounged in an equally luxurious bath yourself!

  2. Despite my reverence for life, I would have killed that spider. It sounds like a Brown Recluse–they love woodpiles–and their bite is really, really nasty. Good thing you were all wearing gloves.

  3. With our milder winters our preparations are much less strenuous. All we have to do is pack up the loungers roll up the hose and sweep the deck of leaves. We have a gas fire with pretend coals but I do envy you your log fire, if not the log splitting.

  4. Getting firewood ready for the winter is hard work, Martha. Truly! And you’re right that it doesn’t seem to hit you until you stop. Thank goodness you have people you can call on to lend a hand. But when you’re sitting by that fire at night it all seems worthwhile. ~Terri

    • I couldn’t have done it alone, Terri. Luckily we all chip in and help each other this time of year. So worth it for a lovely fire every evening to chase the chill. Oddly, firewood prices are rising while propane and oil are cheaper than ever. I still love my fire and my wood is “free” except for the labor.

  5. What a great crew you had! I remember a couple log-splitting outings before we moved here (where it is today 75 degrees F and I am sleeveless) and they were the ultimate in hard work. Will you keep those gloves handy for the daily wood supply run?

  6. Ah yes, spiders love woodpiles and sheets of iron – we have “red back” spiders in our shed and hiding under timber, we always garden with gloves because if they bite you it is all over in about 45 minutes. Not big on spiders but snakes are worse. Not too many harmless ones here!

      • Gloves and boots with decent socks. Your wood pile looks magnificent but when retrieving wood I would instinctively take off a piece and toss it in the air, watch it land and turn over and wait a few seconds to see if a red back appeared. I don’t tell my wife and kids, but I kill at least 10 a year. They are everywhere. And thankfully we don’t see many snakes in the city, but we never walk in long grass during summer, particularly on golf courses or parks near waterways. Then at the beach we have to worry about the blue ringed octopus and sharks! I’m surprised we even go outside!

      • Had to giggle at the surprise of ever going outside with all the threats to life and limb. Truth be told, I give each log a good whack on the floor before bringing it inside, knocks off any dirt as well as “hitchhikers” Mark!

      • Yes, I think that log whacking is a universal practice. We wait for a while because sometimes the hitch-hikers need time to evacuate and you don’t want them angry when they are climbing out! I have seen the photos of bears wandering around your place, that’s pretty scary! Our little cuddly bears hide lethargically in trees and are high on eucalyptus leaves, so we don’t understand the danger of grisslys!

  7. Sorry, but you had me giggling at the thought of never going outside. We share life with some crotchety beings! My confession? I thump each log on the garage floor before I toss it into my carrier. I like to think it is to remove any loose dirt and bark, truth is I hope the spiders fall off too!

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