When we went house hunting 6 ½ years ago we had several items on our wish list. A big yard. A big kitchen. A fireplace. The house we found fit the bill perfectly and we have loved our ten acres, our large kitchen, our cozy fire.
Having a fireplace sort of feels like a necessity when you live out in the country. Yes, we have a small generator, but that pile of wood waiting in the shed feels like a much safer way to hedge my bets against the specter of a power outage.
I grew up with a woodstove as our only heat source. A massive truck would lumber up our gravel road with two cords of uncut chunks of tree trunk. Then came the fun part. They say that the beauty of heating your house with wood is that it heats you twice, right? The chopping and the burning. Well, this wood warmed Dad three times, at least, because we had an enormously long path up to our house, and the pile of wood had to be hauled to the back of the house via wheelbarrow (first warming), chopped with Dad’s hydraulic wood splitter (second warming) and then carried into the house (by me) to be burned (third warming).
I loathed the wood-carrying chore. I suppose, really, that “chore” by definition, means “un-fun”. Piano practice was a chore. Making my bed was a chore. Cleaning my room: a chore. But there was something about carrying in wood that was particularly disagreeable.
To begin with, I had to don an old, ugly coat. How embarrassing. Then I would put on Dad’s giant gloves, and possibly a hat, and use this weird wood-carrier thing that Mom thought was helpful but I thought was nothing short of putting a new coat of paint on a rotting wall. And then load after load had to be stacked in the built-in wood closet. My life was so difficult.
Flash forward to the present day, when I, now a mom myself, send my kids off to do distasteful chores. Recycling, taking out the garbage, cleaning the cat’s litter box. They fuss and moan. Which is why, the other day, I took pity on them and decided that instead of asking them to bring in ONE load of wood to make a fire, I’d do it myself.
I had gotten it into my head that I wanted to roast hotdogs over the fire. So I went out to the garage, picked up a nice, small chunk of wood, and placed it in my other arm, all crooked and ready for carrying. It had been 27 years since I’d held wood in that way and I was almost blown over with the feel of it, with the memory of the way it felt in my arms, with the smells, the splinters, the very ghost of myself, doing my chores.
For the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed carrying in the wood.