Friday, December 26, 2008
A Treatise Against The Cold
It's getting colder now and that takes me back to the years of my youth. Winter is always a time of concern for me, and most people reflexively reach for their checkbook to pay for Christmas, I reach for my axe.
I grew up in a stone house and the only source of heat we had was an enormous fireplace, big enough to roast a hog, and a large WWI barracks stove. There were two warm rooms in the house, the kitchen/dining room or the living room. If you weren't in them you may as well have been dressed to be outside. The upstairs bedrooms had heat in the form of electric blankets and that was it. I can't count how many times I have awakened to the sound of the alarm and had to shake the frost off my bedclothes before rising for school. I know the winter's chill intimately.
The only reliable way to warm yourself was to head out to the back yard and split wood so you could guard yourself and your's against the the winter's night chill. Should the educational system ever be looking for good ways to treat problem children in the classroom, might I suggest splitting and stacking two cords of wood in a blizzard. It tends to humble a person and provide some insight into how the working world tends to run.
To this very day, I can't pass a downed tree and not think of how I can slip back under the cover of night and saw it up so I can guarantee that my family doesn't get cold when the enevitable power failure comes. I learned early on to be a good campfire cook, and while my skills are a bit rusty that doesn't mean I couldn't whip up a decent meal over an open flame.
Our new house has a fireplace but it is more for decoration than actually heating the home or having a meal cooked over, what with it's glass doors and tiny firegrate, but nonetheless, when the weather was good, the girls and I gathered all of the fallen timber amongst the treelines of our neighbors and filled the little red wagon many times, just in case. I have often stopped on my way home to gather the wood that stupid city people have left at the curb for the trashman, and sometimes I have lifted from other people's stash of wood just to assure myself that I can keep my family warm. I don't refer to this practice as theft, but look on it more in the spirit of "Robin Wood"; give to the cold and poor from the stock of the rich, or at least well-to-do. I'm certain when I die I'll arrive at at a very warm place for my transgressions, but there I will only have to split and stack the wood and not have to suffer the cold.
P.S.- If you are in the mood for some homespun fiction with a twist, read my Christmas tale below, "We Three Kings, And A Redneck Sheep Farmer" parts One, Two, and Three. Cheers!