Winter, Firewood, and Longing for Spring

By Shawn
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It’s that time of year again that I would skip all together, if I could. Hunting season is over and fishing season is still quite some time away. I really like to go ice fishing, but I’d rather be top water fishing for a “Big Ole Lunker” on my Jon Boat. Not to mention throwing picnics, going to NASCAR Races, and tending my vegetable garden. Oh how I long for spring. I love spring so much that I actually threw a picnic one Saturday in early April many years ago. While most of my relatives (including Mom) thought I was nuts, my friends and beer buddies loved it.

The big thing for me in winter is firewood. Cutting and splitting firewood is much nicer for me in the winter. We get a lot of wood done in the spring and summer, but we save a lot for winter too. It gives us one more thing to do outside in the cold weather months. I so need things to do outside in the cold weather months. I can’t be cooped up too long or I go crazy.

We had a real early cold season come upon us this year. Last year too! But that’s not always typical. In our neck of the woods it’s almost always foggy and rainy in early winter. We have lived in southern New England all of our lives, and I can count on two hands how many Christmas Seasons resembled those beautiful holiday cards we all get in the mail from our friends and loved ones. You know the ones. Snow covered farm scenes with a few left over corn stalks sticking up out of the snow drifts in the background. Or the one with Santa looking through a frost covered window at children hanging their stockings on the mantel. Again, that’s not usually the case here. Most of you probably know our saying here as well. “If you don’t like the weather, wait an hour.”

Anyway, back to firewood.

We have a wood burning stove in Tami and my living room, one in Mom and Kim’s living room, and one in the barn. We really need a lot of wood every year. Last year we went through about seven or eight cords, and that’s with an oil furnace as a back up for heat and also for all the hot water. Remember, we have two 4 bedroom houses that are attached. That’s a lot of square feet to heat!

It’s a lot of work cutting and splitting wood, but there is nothing better in the winter than sitting in front of a wood stove. It’s one of those things that speaks to me about being a country person. To know you are keeping your family warm. To know you are using less of that black gold that everyone but us gets rich off of. To know it was my back and hands that cut that wood and split that wood and stacked that wood. Boy, I sure do love a good roaring fire.

I have a nice wood splitter we bought at one of the home improvement centers when we first moved here. It had a real nice price tag on it when we bought it. It’s not top of the line, but it works as good as any other if I keep it maintained. Years ago, I helped build a few of them with my best friend Bobby and his Dad and Uncle, and we would use them until they died, but I don’t have access to the steel and parts any more.

I don’t miss swinging an axe all weekend like I did when I was a young man, so any good running splitter will do. I still like to swing the axe, but definitely not all day! It’s funny when a man reaches a certain age. Take me for example. I am as strong as I ever was, and I can still lift and move more than most guys my son’s age, but when no one is looking, my wife says my face is usually wincing in pain. Personally, I don’t know what she is talking about. I will admit though, that those hot showers sure aren’t just for washing up after a hard days work anymore. My sore muscles absolutely love them!!

As far as chainsaws go, I’m a huge fan of both Stihl, and Husqvarna, and I’m telling you, these machines have personalities just like people. While both brands of saws always start for me when they are cold, they do different things all together during the course of a day of cutting. My Stihl saws will always re-start after re-fueling, and a fifteen minute rest, but the Husqvarna saws won’t start until the following day unless I re-start them immediately after re-fueling. You really have to get to know your tools and equipment like you would friends and acquaintances.

I guess if I were to compare myself to a chain saw, I would be more like my Husqvarna. If I stop for coffee, or a bite to eat, I’m probably not going to re-start until the following day! If I do stop to re-fuel, I’m getting started back to work immediately!!!!

Oh, how I long for spring!

Shawn M. Weeks