Wednesday, February 23, 2011


A little news for the few woodslore fanatics still out there in the world. Since December we have been breaking a trail through our woodlot as we always do fall, winter through spring. In the summer we are walking behind lawn mowers and on bicycles enough to keep ourselves walked-up, so we're less in the woodlot.

Last December gave us barely any snow and the trail was easy. We also knew by every passing day in December, either January or February or both (and add March), would pay us back for the open ground in December and give us all the snow we could wish for. The wish came true, even if we weren't wishing. We broke a snowshoe trail all of January every day through the woodlot. And while making that daily trail we decided to pick up each day one or two logs from a full cord of rock maple and beech wood we cut and split a year earlier and stashed under a tarp up there. It's primo wood.

It's late February and the cord is collapsing down in size. We used to see it bold and awaiting as we marched down one hillside and rose with the other. Now it's greatly diminished and maybe halfway gone. Some days I hike the trail (a 15 minute jaunt) four times and am able to bring home eight logs, one under each arm. If Sweetheart is with me, we do better. If Kokomo comes with us on his blue leash we may bring home less wood, but having a kitten on a leash in deep snow is much more fun. Not to worry, he usually stays with us on the beaten down snow trail. The trail is maybe 16 inches wide, and if you or anyone veers off it, you're in snow up to your thighs.

Kokomo's favorite trees to climb along the way: ash and cherry. The leash is 16 feet long.

I know, I know, a cat on a leash, who would have thought. . .

So the plan is to see how long it takes for two people to hand carry a cord of hardwood out of the woodlot and bring it back home. As a daily hike. Not a job. The days I hike the trail four times is to make up for the days and days I have lost to just snow shoveling. Hemingway used to write twice longer on Friday so he could go fishing on Saturday. It's all about balancing the scales of the mind.

It's also about mathematics, which almost kept me from graduating from high school.

The other day I read an essay on backwoods life as mused over by a self-described urbanite. He was speaking of those who had "runaway" to the wilderness from responsibilities, as he called it, to a life often further disgraced with such descriptions as "romantic" and "irresponsible". As if breaking bread and earth with mother nature is "running away"? It seems more likely it is a life living with the source. With many elemental responsibilities. With dire consequences when undisciplined regarding the weather, making fuel, making food, making shelter. While all along shaping a communion with a greater space (a wilderness) and the greater neighborhood. If you can get a little romance out of that, when all is said and done, you deserve it.

So laugh along with me like a happy go lucky fool at all the other fools. As a wonderful fool once put it ~
"We are all amateurs. We don't live long enough to be anything else." *

I'm saying April 1st will be the day we have all the cord pile home and burned. I always considered April Fool's Day the first day of Spring.

photos © bob arnold