Winter has made her Declaration of Intent. Like a crafty lover she “forgot” her toothbrush in the bathroom two weeks ago. The flurry caught me 5 miles up and out from the trail head, chasing me all the way back down to 9000 ft.
By October 10th, her clothes were all over the place:The weekend before, Andy Borek and Hobbes loaded Chainsaw into Toyota Tacoma and came down for a visit. Having obtained a Fuelwood Gathering Permit for White River National Forest ($10 per cord), we headed toward the closest designated cutting area.
At the White River North Fork we found the felled Beetle Kill Pine already cut into 6 ft lengths. We loaded 15 or so lengths into the Tacoma and headed home. Dump. Repeat. The third time around, we got creative and decided to cut the rounds out in the field. We recognized the inefficiency in this use of time and space, so reverted to our original approach. Then I had the brilliant plan to drive to a site TWICE as far away (and above snow line) to a spot where we dragged the heavy (ie-wet) logs, UPHILL…all because I wanted to show Andy a spot where my friends and I camp sometimes; aborted, back to the fertile grounds of North Fork. By dusk, we hauled in the final load. Hobbes made friends with the neighbor’s dog, Money, and while they cavorted about the property, we cut the lengths into rounds which will fit into our woodburning stove.
All in all, a healthy amount of exertion for a day. We mowwed some chili and cobbler, played Scrabble and watched the fire. Andy reviewed pertinent wood chopping information and left me with a napkin back diagram of how to stack the wood… A matter which I would not have even considered until after catastrophe…. And this is why we Educate Women.
The next morning, Andy left, with an early season blizzard whipping at his tire flaps. I drove oh so cautiously through the pandemonium that is the first Elements vs. Vehicles rally. Clutching the steering wheel and leaning over it to see, I thought of a million Public Safety Announcements I’d like to make to the skidding, slipping mess of Other Drivers. Only in retrospect did I realize the soundest piece of advice, was what I had overlooked. STAY HOME. *why do I need an ax in the middle of a snow storm anyway?*
Either way, I survived the drive and the rude and unhelpful geezer at the hardware store. Arriving at home I decked out for the weather and headed up to the Round Mound.
Since then, seeing the wood through the rest of the process has been my near fixation. On my days off, I homestead. Baking and chopping and peering up at the mountains. Meanwhile, Arapahoe Basin opened and the community hustled up to get in a few runs. I got as far as acquiring a pair of skis and boots.
Then Fall reclaimed us with a series of warmer days. Now, as I peered at the peaks, I was struck by presque vu. The mountains were familiar, but not in the right way. Sitting with the sensation, I found it. I was a kid again, running around a grandparent’s house, and knitted and crocheted white doillies were draped on nearly every surface which, at the time, was just above eye level. The snow webbed mountains were my grandmother’s end tables. The dip between the back cushions on the couch. Playgrounds.
As I conclude this entry, rhythmic thuds come from outside. Anne is out there, chopping wood. Having a blast. Because there is something affirming about splitting your own wood.