I love “homespun” tales – simple stories, if you will. Charles Kuralt is a favorite author of mine in this genre. This is one of his stories:
The Cords of Winter
In New England, wood-stove country, a lot of people work for their winter warmth.
Vermonter: I have some that I call “all-day suckers,” because it will take some poor sucker all day to split it.
There is a science to this: the right wood, split the right way, and stacked the right way, so that it will air-dry nicely. People’s woodpiles say something about them. Most piles aren’t “piles”: they’re beautiful, orderly sculptures.
But there are casual collectors of wood, too. If there’s such a thing as a “chopaholic,” for instance – someone who simply can’t stop chopping – one of them may live here. He started out all right, and then just kept on, out of the woodshed and all across the yard.
If it’s solitude you’re seeking, you can find it with an ax and chopping block.
Vermonter: Nobody bothers you when you’re splitting wood, because they’re afraid you’ll ask them to help.
There’s something to be said for a thermostat. Turn it up, and there, you’re warm. But there’s no pride in it, as there is in a fine winter woodpile. And I’m sure you know the old adage, common to many countries and many languages: “Who splits his own wood warms himself twice.”
I love burning my soapstone wood stove in winter. It gives off a ‘soft’ heat; a heat that warms the soul as well as the body.
I used to keep my wood stacked just off the side of my driveway. It was usually “neat,” and easily accessible. However, as the winter would wear on, the wood pile would usually collapse under the weight of the snow, and I would have a mess at the end of burning season.
A few years ago, I read this offering by Charles Kuralt and it gave me inspiration. Now I have a beautiful woodshed, and a wood pile I am very proud of…