I’ve been slowly clearing out a bunch of dead or dying trees from a property not far from me. It works out for both of us because he gets his land cleaned up and I get free firewood. That’s usually how it works for the successful firewood scrounger. While I got a late start this year, it seems as if I have more wood lined up for cutting and burning next year than ever before.
Even with that prospect, though, I’d really like to upgrade our woodstove to something more efficent and easier to clean the ashes. Supposedly with the newer catalytic stoves, you burn a third less wood. The problem, of course, is that it’s impossible to calculate a “payback” when all of your fuel is free.
There is something spiritual about being alone in the woods. For me, I sense being closer to God. I cannot look about all of creation, especially in such a bucolic setting, and somehow conclude that it is all just “by accident.” For me, my faith is the proof.
I went for a walk along a stream and marvelled at the ice formations where the water flowed over rocks. A large tree had fallen over from one bank to the other, causing a chain reaction with two other trees and forming an arch over the stream. Underneath were a trail of tracks from a raccoon or other small animal. There were some cardinals flitting about above.
As I was loading rounds from the fallen oak I had cut up, the predicted snow showers picked up into a fairly heavy event. Snow in the woods quiets the noise of life that much more. It’s hard not to just stop and listen. Birds, breathing, and that voice saying “I am with you, all the time; but you need to take time to listen.”
Since this tree had been down for a few years, it was already well seasoned, and I went right ahead and split about half the load. I have one of those cheap Carhardt jackets that is amazing durable and warm, and underneath that I had my “new” wool biking shirt. Eventually the jacket came off and I just kept moving the wood from the pile to the splitter to the truck to the house.
From there a few armloads came in and right into the stove. So in the course of about three hours, this 70 year old tree that had rotted out and fallen over a few years ago went from the side of a hill in the woods to making our home toasty warm.
Today my legs and back are a little stiff, but I hope to go out again in an hour or so. I am thankful for my health and the opportunity to do the things I can do.