The soundtrack wasn’t Hendrix or any other artificial sound. I was out splitting wood and the West wind, the purifying wind, was blowing hard and it was a be still and know that I am God kind of day. The swishing of the fir tree branches was the lead exploring tempo and counterpoint, while the steady roar of wind through the bare branches of deciduous forest supplied the bass with the depth of sound to drown out traffic noise from Route 250. Last year’s gourd crop, cured dry or almost dry, rattled against each other on the arbor to provide percussion.
I was chopping wood with my maul. I had had some trees pulled up near the house last year and they are dry enough to use. There was some ash and locust. First I cut the fence post lengths out of the locust logs which can be seen lying next to the arbor waiting to be split into usable fence posts. Then I cut the remainder into firewood lengths.
After 10 weeks of consistently below normal temperatures, we got a sudden warm up that melted the accumulated snow and two days in a row set record high temperatures for those dates. So this was a beautiful day, the cutting was finished, noisy chain saw set aside, and I was able to concentrate on splitting the cord wood by hand.
This kind of menial labor is very soothing for me. Other types of work like sales, working a computer, talking on the phone, meetings, driving in traffic — all these and most activities require attention from the mind. Splitting wood frees the mind, lets it develop bigger thoughts without intrusion. I find that restful and, if I can keep up a decent pace, I get an exercise high from it.
My medical condition prevents me from doing it all day long as I might have in the past, but if I go out and do what I can, take a break and get back when I can, over a few days the pile of wood does get bigger.
When I haul wood in from other locations I can only unload it on one side of the pile, but here I am bringing it in a wheelbarrow so I go to the far side of the pile and stack it there first, because I can easily get to it.
Note the three ends of rows of wood left over on the right. I always put up more wood than I need for a winter so I have a jump on the next year, but this year I got into the extra wood and that is all that is left over.
We still have a lot of wood burning days left, but we have storage space in the house we replenish from the main pile, and I think there is enough there to get us through. We will start at that end of the pile and go the other direction next year, so we never have any wood older than 2 years in the pile.
I stack it level, but as I am stacking I leave the last layer on the top and finish it off with the inevitable weird shape pieces that are hard to stack.
My yearly goal is to have the next year’s wood in the pile by the end of April, because once frost ends there is too much to do in the garden to worry about firewood. Plus, even cured wood laying on the ground in the forest can be 12 % moisture, and in the pile by summer’s end will have only 8%. That is extra moisture that will steal heat and escape in the form of steam up the stovepipe so best to burn completely cured and dry wood.
Today it is snow on the ground again so I am confined by my lack of austerity to the house, but I can almost hear the music of the wind in my memory.