The pile is dwindling. It’s probably only a third of the size it used to be. Every load taken away to burn begs the question, ‘will we have enough to make it through?’
I figured I touch each piece at least four times on its journey from its natural state to its final incantation. The tree it belonged to is a character. I want to properly recognize it for what it was, and what it is providing.
Warmth. Security. Connection.
I study the details of grain and bark. The different textures of solid and brittle, dark and light, grooved and smooth, old and older make each section a treasure not like the one before.
The weights, shapes, and features are varied. This directly affects the way the flames behave when they’re set ablaze. Each one hand-selected for a specific purpose stove side.
We aim to start cutting and hauling on July 4th when the breeze is warm and ground is soft. The dust flying from the saw fills our nostrils and lands on our lips. The sounds of cracking wood remind me of impermanence.
I cradle the forest’s gifts for the value they hold and imagine how they started as a mere fleck of green all that time ago. What has passed beside, below, and overhead I will never know.
The work is quiet on the inside. Gathering and couriering across the rising and falling topography. There is assurance in the collection that results. A wide open space marked with chips is where the memories pass through and fade away.
Some split easily, and others twist and shred around hidden knots. You think you know what’s inside until the wood shows you something different. I save the ones that are too rare for civilian duty to remind us of what we can’t make ourselves.
Each season I think I’ll remember where the severed pieces came from when I put them in the hot iron hole. In the end it doesn’t really matter. Some embers glow brighter and fly farther than others. They all turn dark and gather in the low spots.
It is a cycle of cycles. Repeating but different. We change and age like the pine, oak, and juniper. Some will notice but we will all forget. The smoke lifts what was once underground and then itself fades to leave us all wishing for a flight as light and with a cause so noble.
Will we have enough to make it through?