Lugging Wood: A Labor of Love
The winter season is upon us once again in New Hampshire! We are all tolerating the sub zero temperatures in mid February and anxiously waiting for spring. With the fierce and biting chill reigning here, it’s essential to provide heat for the family. Some people’s choice is a mysterious furnace in the basement, that roars and moans with use. Others prefer to burn seasoned wood in wood stoves. In true Yankee tradition, my husband chose to heat our new renovated home with a wood stove, that’s been in his family for a few years. Our stove was his parents’ gem, blasting heat in their log home. Now it’s been been handed down and cranks warmth for our piece of heaven.
New Englanders have heated with their stoves for hundreds of years. There’s a gratifying feeling of surviving winter, as they did many years ago. Feeding the fire starts well before the winter season, though. Tom’s quest for firewood was born in the month of May, when dull grass started to transform into a rich green. Road crews patrolled local back roads for downed trees. Loaded delivery trucks teeming with wood pieces barreled down local driveways and dumped piles here and there. Simultaneously this determined man brought truck loads of cut trees into our yard for stacking in organized piles.
Spring gently transitioned into summer and our stove sat cold with no use. Yet, Tom knew that soon enough it would steam with intense heat. He expected a typical winter and was driven to stockpile enough wood for his family. This strong desire spread like wildfire in our family. Dylan and Branden helped stack and cut with the little wood splitter. I made every effort to work at the pile too. Clothed in shorts and a bulky t-shirt, I challenged myself on the art of assembling wood. I watched Tom perform the job and followed suit. After a few hours of this, I could feel it in my arms and eventually strengthened them.
By October we had accumulated and stacked about five cords of wood. It wasn’t time to rest yet, as kindling had to be cut and placed close to our house. When cold weather arrived, we hauled armfuls of wood daily. I know this sounds crazy, but I don’t mind trekking out to the pile and bringing it back to the house. Tom doesn’t seem to mind either, probably because it’s worth it. The glowing heat of the fire is worth it. The warmth of the house is worth it. Mostly our family is worth it.
Lastly the birch, oak and cherry pieces are dutifully piled in our log holder, awaiting their crackling fate. Tom and I faithfully keep the fire blazing when we are home. If it’s a work day, he loads it up enough to last until he comes home. Sometimes Dylan is doing homework here and will load the fire as needed. We should show Branden what to do, so he can feed the flames as well. On severely frigid days and nights Tom has a little camp stove fired up in the basement as well.
There is something nostalgic and special about a flaming hot fire, whether crackling in a fireplace or a stove. I also love the smokey fumes spewing from the chimney, as I walk outside in the snow. Nothing makes me happier on a work day, then riding up Jockey Hill and seeing a column of smoke rising up from our little house. It sends me a message of welcome home and to townsmen a message that it’s lived in, finally.
All My Best,
Heart and Soul ❤️