Bringing in the Wood


When my mother was an agile 73 year-old, she had a wood burning furnace to keep her island home cozy in the winter. Both my brother’s family and mine spent Christmas on the island that year and decided to bring in all the wood that “Grandma’s Place” might need…for the next three years of winter weather.

The day before our departure we assembled outside in a weird sort of assembly line. The wood was transported from hand to hand, across the yard from the woodpile to an open basement window. A wicked wind kicked in, along with freezing sleet stinging our faces. The kids whined, the adults crabbed. We sure didn’t resemble any Norman Rockwell portrait that I’ve ever seen.  “To hell with this,” my husband finally snarled. “Let’s just all kick in and pay Grandma’s way to a warmer climate.”

This vivid memory of “bringing in the wood” resulted in us installing electric heat when we built our own island home. It is economical, clean, and only requires a twirl of the thermostat to warm up a room. Yet, there’s something about a real fire that drives the frost from not only your house, but from your soul as well.

Loving fires as I do, I insisted on a fireplace in the living room – and not one of those convenient gas models. I wanted to sit on the fireplace ledge and bake my back. I longed to hear the crackle of the fire and later watch the glowing embers. I envisioned our dogs curled up in front of a blazing log, like one of those Lands End catalog photos.

 My husband is not exactly enamored by the thought of preparing the woodpile and still brings up that long ago December day when he swears he got frostbite while hauling in my mother’s winter supply. Last year we ran out of wood long before we
ran out of snow and perfect fireplace weather. I begged for my own chain saw for mother’s day but he was certain I’d cut off my foot and refused to purchase it. He did get me a little safe, dinky-sized hand saw for my trail work, but it doesn’t really “cut it” when it comes to limbs and logs with a diameter larger than about four inches.

But I had a plan for this fireplace season. Starting in early September, my daily walks in the woods have also been wood collecting missions. The windy weather has helped and the large limbs and small trees that toppled are perfect for me to drag home. The dogs even got into the spirit of the work and the Golden once picked up a large stick at the top of Mt. Pisgah and carried it all the way home, dropping it on my cache for the winter.
Actually, our back yard now looks as if a Beaver has a good sized lodge constructed there and my patience was at an end. “When are we cutting wood?” I demanded one Saturday afternoon. “I’ve been bringing it home for months now and we’ll soon have snow.”

Hubby shifted in his Lazyboy to glance outside at the stacks of logs. “I’ve got a better idea,” he said. “Your mom changed over to fuel oil and she has all that perfect wood down in her basement. It’s kiln-dried by now…won’t even need much kindling.”
And so dear readers, we’ve come full circle. The wood we transported into the basement of “Grandma’s Place” has now been hauled out again – out the same basement window that witnessed its arrival so many years ago.

I’m happy about the stacked woodpile of pristine dry wood and think I’ll still be having my beloved fires from fall through the chilly, slushy spring. But there’s still the matter of my rather impressive collection of logs and limbs stacked in my back yard. So, if anyone out there knows of a homeless Beaver in search of a ready-made domicile please let me know. Have I got the perfect fixer-upper for him!