“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
The seductress that she is, winter has been fashionably late this year. She has shed her brown frock and is bedecked with the thinnest white gossamer gown. Her icy breath is descending upon the north country as I type. I await our dance.
It seems the weathermen have finally rid themselves of their Tommy Bahama tropical shirts here on Child Lake. They’re telling us that the bottled up arctic air can only be held back so long. All reports have the Canadian prairie provinces are about to unleash its frigid fury on it’s neighbors to the south.
Actually in an absurd sort of way, I welcome it.
I spent too much time pulling wood ticks and deer ticks off parts of my hide that are hidden, and swatting deer flies and mosquitos off the parts that weren’t, not to reap the benefits of all that work in the woods.
You see I’m self-employed now. No pay, but the wallpaper’s outstanding! I collect wood. That’s it…wood.
Wood is a year long pursuit here at the lake. You’re either cutting it, splitting it, stacking it, hauling it, or re-stacking it again. So I’m damn sure going to burn it.
Bring on a bit of the cold!
Most of the north country has slowly been overrun by people whose bank accounts have let them loose touch with the land that they have worked their entire lives to move to. I’m talking central air, geothermal heat, hot tubs, heated flooring, two story cathedral windows, etc.
All fine, but there is no reason to leave their comfortable MacMansions except to pull their progeny around the lake on a hotdog-shaped beach toy on the 4th of July.
Unfortunately, or maybe even fortunately, I’m not blessed with such a bank account and will never own an inflatable hotdog pull toy, thank-you kindly.
But I do feel a strange sense of wealth whenever I walk towards one of my many wood piles. Each piece of wood I know intimately, for I have handled it many times. Within its confines are locked all the countable summers that our closest star has bathed it in.
My childhood, adolescence, adulthood are contained in those growth rings.
They hold the essence of my parents, fresh from a war-weary odyssey as they came of age. Strolling hand in hand, claiming this sandy, swampy, patch of woods that nobody else wanted, as their own.
(*Me by the dog)
This wood is permeated with the sounds of laughter as three small naked children splash and play in a crystal clear, always too cold lake. These pieces of wood have held onto summer as only we wish we could.
It is now my job to release it.
And so it is with great reverence that I take chainsaw to these overseers. I choose my trees carefully. Those destined to be toppled by disease are first to go. Those that have slowly let gravity threaten property and safety are next. And finally, those who have lived to their maximum longevity fall before me. I do not take it lightly.
Yes, it is work. Yes, it is messy. And yes, it is arduous. But like they say, it is honest work. There are more efficient ways to heat and survive a northern winter. Yet as long as my back stays strong and the woodland provides, I will continue the harvest.
Many people check daily their portfolios and smart-phones constantly for stock quotes. I need only to set my coffee down and step out the door, walk a few paces and make a withdrawal.