In the morning I plant trees at roughly equidistant intervals along the tractor road that skirts the southern fringe of the grassy knoll behind the barn. I dig the soil with a pointed spade, loosen the dirt with my hands, set the roots gently into the hole, and backfill with a mixture of the loosened soil and compost from a plastic bucket I’ve carried with me. It is cold and damp, though from my vantage point I can see a fair distance toward the northwest, where the clouds are breaking in a way that suggests the weather might soon turn. I hope it turns. I could use it to turn.
I settle the last of the trees, scrub my hands clean in wet pasture grass, watch woodsmoke rise from the chimney of our small house. There’s only a few more mornings worth of dry firewood left to burn, then we’ll be onto whatever scraps we can muster, mostly lumber cutoffs and softwood slabs from the logs we had milled a couple summers back. My goal of having extra dry wood has eluded me once again, and I think that on some subconscious level I must know in advance exactly how much wood we’ll burn in a given year, because although I only ever take rough measure, every spring we seem to run out at exactly the same time. Which is always sooner than I’d hoped, to be sure, but also always later than presents any significant hardship.
The front door of the house opens, and our son emerges, on his way to work. I, too, have places to be, so I give my hands one more pass through the grass, rise to my feet, and get on with my day.