Straddling the seasons
The back-to-school sales are already in full swing, although it seems to every child that summer vacation just began. But you don't have to have kids in school (or be one) to feel like you're living in more than one season at once.
Just a couple of weeks ago, we finally moved our deck furniture, including the grill which, even without the propane tank and the cast-iron grates, weighs about seven tons, and Maureen gave the deck its annual coat of paint, soon to be chipped, scraped and scuffed by snow shovels. Then we moved the seven-ton grill back.
And our wood was delivered a few weeks ago – we got five cords this time, because the four we got last year were gone before the snow ended. We felt like spendthrifts actually turning the oil heat up from 62.
We have two cords of green wood – an attempt to save money – that we have been stacking at one end of the yard to season over the next several months, and three cords that are already seasoned, which we will split and stack starting around the middle of August.
All of this activity has occasioned thoughts of summer, fall and winter.
We will just have returned from vacation when it will be time to store the hammock, beloved symbol of summer leisure (which I actually get to use once in a while), to make room on the porch for the pallets that bear our supply of stove wood for the winter. We will spend a good part of the late summer and fall splitting and stacking it. And – happy thought – we may have help, in the form of my older nephew. When I mentioned the wood to him on the phone recently, he volunteered that he loves splitting wood – and he does it with an ax, not an electric splitter like ours – and said he'd like to come for a weekend this fall and help stack.
True, he also thought it might be nice to go for an ATV ride while he's here, but if we get a good day's work out of him, it will probably equal at least a day of the two of us working together, maybe more. And we won't mind having an excuse to take a ride, anyway.
Much as I love summer – and I love summer as only a New Englander can – working with the wood reminds me of the good parts of fall. Like cool, crisp, dry days, trees brilliant with turning leaves, apple cider and unpacking the sweaters. Moving logs under a summer sun does make me think fondly of a chill in the air. But I'm not complaining, really. Fall will be here soon enough, shortening the days, forcing me to put away my sandals and foretelling cold just around the corner.
We are lucky to live in a place where each season has beauty to show us and pleasures to enjoy, even, I'll grudgingly admit, that six-letter word that starts with a 'w'. And each one is enriched by the memory and the anticipation of the others.
All the while I'm stacking wood for the next two or three months, I will be thinking of toasty fires and watching snowflakes cover the ground with a spicy cup of chai in my hand. And when we are sitting in front of our wood stove enjoying its warmth, we will think back on the warm summer days when we stacked a wall of green wood to season for the fire.
Having recently turned 60, I plan to enjoy my own seasoning as well. I hope you do the same.