Its easy to forget, time passes, we busy ourselves with the daily chores of living. Half a year drifts past, a gentle flowing stream, meandering away each day, lost forever. The cold of winter is a distant memory this time of year. The warm days of summer are bewitching, lulling us into a comfortable slumber. Summers daily priority is getting water to the plants, the animals and quenching our own thirst. The thought of warming ones body against the flames of a fire is as distant as an ocean horizon. However it's imperative for us to be prepared, for when that weather does return, when we encounter that bone chilling south westerly our bodies will crave the warmth of the house fire.
There is nothing like a warm fire. The flames red, orange and yellow. They dance, don't they? With a flicker and a hiss, it has powers to mesmorize us. That same fire has joined us together as people. It has been the centrepiece of many of mans greatest community and family moments. It has warmed our fathers and their fathers before them. In every corner of the world, it's provided us with comfort and heat for cooking. It binds us together. Well I guess it used to much more in days past, but not so much these days. In my previous life I lived with gas heating, which was fine, but out here on the hill, where I currently reside, there is no gas plumbed to the house. We rely on bottled gas which needs to be delivered. It becomes vitally more precious a resource. The reality is, we need wood as a fuel for heating. Thankfully this house is equipped with an efficient 'modern' wood heater. It's small in size, but don't let that fool you. It's an efficient wood burner i.e. it burns slow and hot. The heat in that room is magnificently heart warming. The girls have dubbed it 'The Cosy Room'. Its the room we gather most days when the weather outside is just plain ugly. Its where my kids snuggle into me on the sofa. It's where we lay, under a few Pendleton woollen blankets, not having a care in the world other than staying warm.
To keep the home fire burning I need to source wood. Mornings after an evening of big wind I head out and scout for fallen timber. There is plenty about. Trees gift us our fuel. A large branch here, a half rotted limb there. It's a fantastic resource you just need to keep your eyes open. You need to embrace being opportunistic.
I spot fallen timber, fresh, green and soft to saw. A large branch weakened by internal rotting in the join, finally succumbed to the strong wind and dropped its heavy load. I fuel up the saw, and pack it in the tub of my truck. If I have anyone else around with a saw I'll drag them along for help, it gets the job done faster. This time around it's Sam. He has this great old Stihl, its a heavy old tool but it was made to last, it's still useful. The saws buzz loudly for a spell. Limbs become neatly cut logs, custom cut to a size to fit the home fire. The wood is too green to split, its like striking an axe onto a bonnet of a car. It just bounces back. So it needs to be seasoned. It will be ready next year.
In my truck I carry a pair of leather riggers, they come everywhere. The stories they could tell. They've been a companion, a partner. In a small country hardware/outfitter store somewhere deep in the hill country of Vermont, I picked up the gloves off the shelf. My mate James told me the story behind them. They're made from tanned deer hide in Vermont itself. Manufactured by one of the last family companies making the gloves and other leather items I imagine. After hearing the background story I didn't even bother looking at the price which I later found to be a mere $17. If its a family business making something great, competing with mass produced alternatives I figure they could do with my support. I've been rewarded with that purchase. They are another useful tool, like Sam's old saw. It keeps doing as was intended. They protect my hands from many things. Again on this day, they come along, helping in the process of loading the cut wood into the truck, and then finally stacking it for a year of seasoning. I hope they last forever. But I know one day, like everything good, they will eventually wear and fail me. But that wood will still need to be cut. Maybe I should go back to Vermont and get another more pair.
It may pay me to return in more ways than just a new pair of gloves. Last time I was there, that New England pal James, gifted me with my favourite work vest. Its an oldy but a goodie. He found it for 60c at a New England thrift store. Keeps my arms free for work also keeps the core of my body warm with that cosy wool lining. You wouldn't know it was summer today. A cool change had set in. It has me wearing wool lined vests and chopping firewood for the winter. The winter thats not supposed to be here for a few months yet but feels like its arrived early.