If you spot Andrew or I moving about like we’re wearing wooden underwear today, it’s because we spent a good portion of the weekend filling our shed with wood, making sore muscles. Because it won’t fill itself. It is such a lot of work, but oh, it is good work. My love song to making wood still holds true. It runs smack in the face of popular culture’s message of ‘Less work!’ and “Now, even easier!’ but even as I’m straining with a stack of firewood cradled in my arms, I can’t help but feel as if there is a significant truth within grasp. Physical work is satisfying, especially when the fruit of your labor is so tangible. I daresay it’s an essential ingredient to happiness. But that’s not how we think as a culture, is it? Our collective mindset is geared more towards eliminating work wherever possible – passing it off to machines or poorly-paid laborers. And the muscles in our forearms atrophy because we employ an electric can opener. We don’t even have to move our wrists to brush our teeth anymore, do we?
Making our own heat has become an unexpected paradigm-shifter for me. I often tell the story of how I scorned the thermostat setting as we found it when we moved in six years ago. The previous owners had it set to 63 degrees F, a temperature I thought barbaric, until we blew through several hundred dollars of propane within our first month in residency. Waking up to a house warmed to a civilized temperature comes at a great cost, we quickly learned. We choose to pay that cost with physical labor, and set the thermostat to 60. The uncomfortable cold of the minutes before we get the woodstoves blazing makes the heat of the fires incredibly satisfying when they take off. I don’t take heat for granted the way I used to, to be sure. But the adjustment to wood took awhile before it became ingrained, before I learned to fill the boxes with ample wood before a rain hit and soaked our pile to the core. We’re a leg up on the rain now, with this handy storage shed, complete with a roof. But we figure we’ve got a ways to go before we’ve stacked all the wood needed to see us through winter, so the work continues until snow renders our pile-in-waiting unreachable.
Thousands of geese share in this seasonal urgency; each time I step outside it seems as if whole throngs of them are flying either to or from the stream out back.
Not much for the joys of physical work, the hogs wait for their bowls to magically fill with food. You know the saying – pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. Soon, boys.
Which means the days of stealing bread from the pigs is quite limited, Dear Leila. Get it while you can.