I love the smell of a wood fire on a cool night.Â Maybe itâ€™s because my childhood home was heated with wood that I appreciate what it takes to go from standing tree to fragrant warmth.
It was part of the seasonal farm routine to take the tractor and wagon, bump along a narrow logging road, and cut and load the dry, seasoned wood.Â Once home again we either stacked the wood in long neat rows, or tossed it into the basement for later stacking near the furnace.
Mom tried to make it fun work. Â Each of us kids had to play her a gameâ€¦sometimes it was cribbage, sometimes it was Troubleâ€¦and the loser would have to stack between fifty and one-hundred pieces of wood.Â (Obviously this was long before the â€œeverybody is a winnerâ€ mindset!)
It has been said that wood warms you twiceâ€”as you prepare it, and as you burn it.Â That is true.Â Trying to stack fifty or more pieces of wood as fast as I could was dirty, hard, work!Â Not to mention Mom made sure the stacking was done properly. Â No sloppy effort was tolerated and it didn’t matter how small the hands doing the assembling.
The lesson must have stuck with my younger brother in particular.Â He still lives in our old farmhouse, and when we visit my husband gives a low whistle of admiration for his wood stacks.Â If a woodpile can be pretty, his are down right picturesque.
Recently I had the chance to head north and spend a little time with my brother.Â As I walked past the woodpile, much smaller now that he augments with propane, I smiled sadly.Â I miss the games, the losses, and the real-work of preparing for a Minnesota winter. But somehow, in the tight rows of wood, I felt my parents there with me. Â It was the best part of my day.