It’s been cold, startlingly so, and until yesterday the wind was relentless. Now we await an impending storm that’s forecast to bring as much as two feet of snow and still more wind. It’d been an unremarkable winter until this snap; funny how a late-season taste of cold and snow can color the entire season. Suddenly, winter seems long and hard.
The cold has been good for pulling firewood, and we’ve amassed an impressive pile. It’s long been my ambition to stockpile two years worth, but like too many of my ambitions (six pack abs, four hour work week, financial independence, master Hot For Teacher on the guitar), it’s a goal perennially deferred. But this year, I think we’re going to make it, or close enough to claim it so within the margins of reasonable exaggeration. Wood is our sole source of heat and hot water, along with our primary cooking fuel, and for us there’s security in firewood, or at least the illusion of security, and since illusion is all any of us ever get, I’ll take it.
At our previous property, we burned a lot of “B grade” hardwood – red maple, mostly, and good bit of white birch. Here, we have access to an embarrassment of riches: Sugar maple is the primary hardwood species, but also some beech, a bit of black cherry, and lots of apple culled from the long-abandoned orchard. And still some white birch, which maybe isn’t the best from a BTU standpoint, but which I love for its papery bark, a built-in fire starter. Lately, we’ve been burning lots of spruce clapboard scraps, too, and while I’m very much looking forward to finishing the siding (at the rate we’re on, I’m figuring fall of ’21), I’ll sure miss the tinder-dry scraps.
I think I might’ve mentioned this once before, but I’ll never forget reading a historical non-fiction book to the boys about the colonists, and how they burned 50-70 cords of firewood per year (we burn about five). It’s an astonishing amount, unfathomable to me, and made all the more so to realize they had no tractors, nor chainsaws. It must have been all-consuming and exhausting, though I suppose it beat freezing to death by a pretty wide margin.
I guess I don’t have much else to say; I keep thinking I’ll come up with something more meaningful to share, but the days come and go and come again in a flurry of activity, and nothing really comes to mind. Life of the hand, life of the mind, as Will likes to say. I guess I’m in a hand phase.
Oh, and for those of you who are interested, we’ve been posting some photos over here.