In goes the wood!  From woodpile to woodroom....

In goes the wood! From woodpile to wood room....

OK, what do you need to fill the wood room?  A)  A bunch of logs cut up into appropriate lengths for the wood stove,  B)  Big trees from which to cut logs and C)  camera to take picture of two people who have filled the wood room for nigh onto 30 years now.

Sigh.  Let’s get serious now and explain this process for all of you citified folks who have never burned wood.  I’ll bet some of you even indulge in the luxury of turning a thermostat to, say, 72 degrees and allowing natural gas, electricity or propane to warm your bodies to a comfortable temperature. 

I can relate to you all.  In the olden days, when I was growing up, we used that thermostat.  A mysterious family bill-payer sent checks to the gas company who ran lines into our house.  At least that’s my memory; maybe we had electricity?  (Just tried to call my folks for verification; the phone gods say their number doesn’t exist.  Hmmmmm….)

We never thought much about the heating process in those days.  Maybe kids never think much about it, anyway.  Heat just magically appeared from the radiators, filling our house with just the right amount of desired warmth.  It was lovely.

Soon after we moved to the North Woods, however, a new agenda emerged.  We would burn wood.  Wood means:  trees.  We would begin a very cumbersome and complicated process of buying a chainsaw, finding downed trees (or logging them, in some lean years), cutting them into lengths, loading them in our truck, driving them home, unloading the truck, splitting the log-fellows into appropriate lengths and stacking them in woodpiles covered with tarps. 

Then you waited for the sun and wind to cure the logs, to dry them properly, to wither the sap.  All during the long summer months, the wood pile baked.  About the time it baked properly, the cold descended, and now it was time to carry in the wood.  About once a month, like it or not, you bundled up in winter garb and stacked all the pre-split logs in rows in the basement wood room. 

Do you think you’re done after all of that?  Don’t be silly.  Then comes the “fun” of stoking the fire.  Daily.  Hourly sometimes.  The woodstove is a hungry creature, demanding choice morsels throughout the hours.  The colder it is outside, the more logs it gobbles.  It eats poplar like candy, and thus most of us refuse to burn that particular species.  Instead, hard maple and oak provide the steadiest most reliable nourishment and the woodstove hums merrily for hours after digesting these tasty whole food meals.

Barry is the go-getter who finds, cuts and delivers the wood.  I am primarily the wood-stoker.  (Except after 10 p.m., at which time he loads the stove up for evening burning.)  But together we’ve always filled the wood room.  Yes, I can see us doing this particular chore until we’re too old to lift another log. 

Shoveling off the wood pile before hauling the logs inside

Shoveling off the wood pile before hauling the logs inside

Ooops!  I forgot to tell you….before you can even begin to fill the wood room, you notice that at least a foot of snow has fallen upon the top of the pile.  So you find a shovel and clear off the heavy white stuff.  Then you turn towards your partner and say, “Are you ready?” and hand him or her the first six logs. 

It isn’t hard.  It’s almost fun.  I swear it.  You get used to this rhythm.  And there’s NOTHING in the world more glorious than wood heat.  It warms you beyond the bones.  It doubles the appreciation of living in the woods.  It does.  Really.

  (And it’s also nice to have back-up propane in the basement just in case it’s needed….)