This past week I spent a day helping a friend get in their fire wood for the winter. After five hours and two chain saws, two trees were cut up, a lot of splitting was done, a large pile of chunks was near the wood splitter, and some wood even got piled up in the shed.
It was a hard day filled with accomplishment followed by a couple of days of being a little stiff and sore. I have not cut up that much wood in over twenty years. I would still like to think I am 25 but apparently I am not.
All of this made me think of my childhood history of heating with wood. My dad owned a sawmill so there was always wood at hand. When I was very young but old enough to handle the wheel barrow I would take turns with my two older sisters making trips across the road to the sawdust pile behind the sawmill. We had a sawdust burner in the house that was the primary source of heat. Every day we made trips to that sawdust pile, dumping it and pushing it through a window that opened into the basement.
Eventually the sawdust burner made way to a nice, new, modern fuel oil furnace but the days of burning wood were far from over. We also had a fireplace in the house that heated the addition. My dad eventually decided that the fireplace was largely inefficient which led to a wood stove on the porch. We cut up tops from the trees my dad harvested for the sawmill and we burned slab wood which as you can imagine was also plentiful from the mill.
Day after day we would get home from school and find a 4x4x8 foot wooden crate filled with slab wood waiting for us outside of the garage door which needed to be stacked up inside. Calling it a garage at that point was largely inaccurate as it really served as a big wood shed. And every time we thought we were just about done, my sisters and I would groan as we saw our father head across the road with another box of slab wood on the loader!
As I grew older into my late teens I even sold firewood for awhile. That was a lot of work with not enough return.
Those wood cutting skills though have stayed with me over the years and I felt honored and grateful to help out a friend this past week. The glow of friendship from that day this week is just one more way that heating with wood will give me warmth in my body, in my mind and in my heart.