Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Most woodpiles are made of wood, if you think of them that way.  Mine is the spaces between: the aisles and runways that are a world for many creatures soft and warm.

from Woodpile by Peter Parnall

There is an enormous pile of unstacked wood in our driveway.  Absolutely huge.  This past week we had 10 cords - yes, 10 cords of wood - delivered to our house by the tree guy we have used for a few years now, who works down the road from us.  In case it is hard to imagine, this is what 10 cords of unstacked wood looks like:

Let's just get it out there. I think our massive wood pile is beautiful. It smells so good. It is clean, freshly split, unseasoned (hence our decision to buy it now, so it can season in the hot summer months after we stack it into aerating piles.) I also love the shelter it becomes for the small creatures that live in our yard. Chipmunks, groundhogs, birds, rodents, bugs, and our children seem to be drawn to nest in it. Our kids had a whole snow fort built into the piles of shoveled snow and the nooks created by having pulled from the pile in different places during the winter.

But I am sure this pile of unstacked wood is a much discussed "situation" amongst those who can see it strewn across our driveway as they drive by, or by our neighbors.  We need to get it stacked. So it will dry. So we can get our bikes out of the barn. So we can feel a bit less publicly exposed for our unusualness. It feels a bit like having your underwear hanging on the clothesline right now.  

It sits out there, reminding us of this insurmountable, it seems right now, task ahead of us of stacking this pile.  Which seems like a combination of a burden and a gift.  

The other night the kids and Jonathan put on their work gloves and went out and stacked for a bit while I worked on dinner in the house.  It was warm outside, and doing this task now, for our benefit in a season that comes long after the spring we are just beginning to glimpse, helps us remember to enjoy the now.  I think I may have heard the basketball bouncing from time to time.  I was not expecting much to have changed, what with the bouncing ball, waning interests, the likely poorly chosen hour to begin just before dinner.  But this morning I noticed this.

I assumed the stacking as it had happened last year had been done by Jonathan or myself with the kids bringing wood from where it was dumped over to us, and soon peeling off to engage in some more interesting hootenanny.  But Jonathan reported that no, in fact Nicholas had done the stacking.  There is no better sign that he is growing than the carefulness and solidity of this stack of wood.  It is small.  But it is well done.  

And he hopes for monetary reimbursement.  See?  Growing up.

We are going to stack this wood, over the next few weeks...perhaps months...and create for ourselves all the spaces, stories, and togetherness between.  This wood will give us time together now with a common task and then rest here, improving with time, becoming drier and more burnable. And in the winter, we will revisit its pieces, hauling them into the house and be drawn toward their warmth.

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