It’s Fall. I wonder sometimes why we call it Autumn when Fall is so much more apt. Welcoming Fall. Branches heavily laden with ripe apples and quince. A shawl around my shoulders and socks on my feet in the morning, instead of bare. The first scent of woodsmoke wafting in my window from a neighbor who is already welcoming the season with a fire.
I have some crazy idea that I must wait until the temperature outside drops to 40F before striking the tinder carefully laid in my woodbox. I never make it that long. The luxurious heat of wood is something I look forward to and have reveled in for 35 years.
There is a rhythm to the Fall. For many years, getting the wood in was a family task. When we were married, my son’s dad would let the downed trees from winter storms dry for a season and then buck them up for splitting. I used to love hefting the maul and giving a round a good whack hoping that my stroke would fall in just the right spot, dividing the one into two, and then four.
The year we split up the first time, I had a large pile of big rounds which was more than I could handle by myself and my son at six was too small to lend serious help to the task. My friends Jim and Diana brought over a wood splitter. It was loud when fired up. Jim wore ear protection. I wish that I had some. I was petrified that my fingers would be chopped off with a blade that was wicked and sharp. No room for error! And, then the smell of the exhaust that overpowered the sharp resin smell from the splits.
What used to take days, was complete in two hours. I missed the comforting sound my maul met the wood with it’s 6-pound head—a satisfying thunk ornamented by the distant caw of ravens.
Now I call my wood woman, Kelly. She is reliable, brings me dry wood, and an over-than-full cord at a fair price. When I hear her big-girl truck rumble up the alley to dump a big pile of cleanly split sticks just inside my fence line, I feel the satisfaction of knowing that my wood stove will warm me and mine for another season.