Home, Taos, Writing

Burning Time

It snowed when the firewood was delivered Wednesday. The ground was too warm for any of it to stick, but the gray, raw day was enough of a reminder we had to stack this wood and get it covered. Winter’s on its way. We’ve already started firing up the woodstove at night.

So Saturday after the morning errands were out of the way, I got my gloves and headed to the woodpile. I synced the phone and speaker for some bluegrass on wood pilePandora. I would see how far the afternoon takes me. We only burn a cord thanks to the passive-solar design of our home but it looked like a lot more when it was dumped.

For the next few hours, I stacked split logs, making sure to build sturdy ends to keep the rows from falling. I tossed aside the logs too large to fit our stove so Hank can split them later. (Meanwhile Hank was moving the clothesline to the front yard where it could get sun this winter — a more complicated chore than expected.)

The rows of firewood are located in a sheltered but sunny spot between the west side of the house and the arroyo. They’re close enough to the back door so it’s an easy task to carry logs for the wood box inside.

Last winter I kept finding pieces of spiny cactus among the logs. I tossed them into the arroyo but they would reappear. At the end of winter, Hank discovered a pack rat nested there. The rat fled when Hank dismantled what was left of the rows.

There is a certain finesse to stacking free-standing rows of wood. The ends are important. I also make sure the rows have a solid base and there are no gaps among the logs. It is a bit of a puzzle.

I often use a mindless chore like this to dwell on my writing. Sometimes I’ve unraveled a knot in a plot or learned more about a character when I am doing something busy with my hands.

Back East, we burned about four cords of firewood. We bought the hardwood green and let it sit for a year. Our fall chore included bringing the now-seasoned wood into the basement and beneath the deck. Then, we stacked the new wood in a row. It took weekends.

But one cord of dry wood? It took me a couple of hours on Saturday.

I can check that off my list.