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.
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…