Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter Firewood Wear and Warm Drafts

Just in time for the warmish weather snap, the firewood arrived (the above photos are not mine). For the house in the city, I can get through just about half of a cord... maybe 3/4 of a cord.  Between travel and a reconfigured heating circulator, burning through a full cord in one winter is almost impossible for me.  Swinging a new Estwing one-piece into the nicely seasoned hardwood gives the shoulders and hands a familiar sensation... a youth and young adulthood spent swinging an axe regularly.  Getting to know the season of each round rested on the splitting stump, practicing the angles, the accuracy, the solitude and the strange intimacy that comes from repetition and focus. Start the task with a jacket, shift into sweater, then rolled sleeves, and occasionally into a tee shirt in the snow.  The number of garments removed correlate directly to the length of time splitting.  My father used to say "come back in when you've worked yourself down to your shirt."  I would put the axe and the maul into the bench-vise and sharpen the edges with the hand-stone, wiping them with a slightly oiled rag.

These days, after the wood is delivered to the city, several neighbors come by to take their share of the stack, and though they all pitch in to the order, cherry-picking is not allowed.  We all haul the wood into each other's houses, sometimes hoisted by gantline to top floors, sometimes stacking it into basements, but always ending with a neighborly glass together.

My 1/2 cord stacked in the courtyard (above) with a sweatshirt over cuff-links (below). 

Every winter, I buy my wood from a professional woodsman in-state.  He wears old running shoes, a Boston College Eagles Footlball sweatshirt, and regular jeans.  He's young, and makes his living cutting trees, milling them into planks or cutting them into rounds, and even splitting them.  He doesn't wear silly $80 flannel shirts, and he sure as hell does not wear $350 boots.  He recently had to hire two other guys because his hard work has been paying off.  I imagine he has no use for the trendy Urban Lumberjerk.  


Later that evening, an annual black-tie party in the city with some showy socks on my feet.

Slightly obnoxious

In New England winters, one stands or sits in front of the heating vents in the drafty old city houses, and lets the warm air get very familiar with your lowers.  C'mon... it works.  

In Northeastern winters, a bundle of four or five split hardwood log segments is an acceptable gift to bring to a party, if you are tired of bringing wine... just make sure that your host has a method for burning the logs.


Wet socks, gloves, hats, and kitchen towels steam and then stiffen at the fireside, a fireside made possible by genuine honest-to-goodness woodsmen who don't own or wear foolish designer outdoorsman outfits.  


  1. "foolish designer outdoorsman outfits" - perfect! I can assure you that the man who delivers our wood each year wouldn't be caught dead in an $80.00 flannel shirt. (He is too busy spending $30,000 on a new RV!)

  2. I'm never convinced that "seasoned " firewood is adequately seasoned. I have mine dumped early in the summer.


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