One long woodsy post

I’m not sure how it works at your house, but here at Contemporary Insanity, things tend to start out seeming all nice and normal, but somehow manage to quickly snowball into “Whoa! What just happened??!?” Here are three stories from our week’s end to illustrate…

Part 1: The Woodpile

For example, the beautiful weather last week encouraged me to get out Thursday afternoon and attack the last of the woodpile that had been languishing since early summer. The skies were blue, the birds were singing, and all was right with the world:

No worries, right? Just a few pieces of wood. It was about 2p.m. when I started – you can see a few rays of sun on the wood as the sun was sneaking around the corner of the house.

The back of the woodshed was all ready for some green wood to get stacked up and season for a few months.

A little later, I’m making headway. In front of the wheelbarrow is the second or third small pile of split wood that I’d created.

Just off to the upper right of this picture is where my two monkeys were playing with a sugar pumpkin I’d brought home to cook into a pie, but that they appropriated for a munching ball.

Soon after this picture, several things went south:

  • a couple of Very Big Spiders decided they needed to hang out with me, of which I was not very appreciative
  • two mosquito bites
  • Bendito the Pain snapped his tie out and ran down to the creek. Where he stayed. For more than 30 minutes. During which he did NOT listen to his momma tell him to get out of the creek.
  • Momma meditated by the creek and was glad there were no sharp implements near by.
  • Bendito tried to eat a bite or two from various rotten salmon floating belly up in the creek
  • Bendito got mad when his momma told him he couldn’t do that
  • So he peed on the fish instead – if he can’t have the fish, NOBODY gets the fish.

Etc. Wash, rinse, repeat. You get it – y’all have lives of your own.

A few more logs were split.

Not long after this, the Captain came home from work. (Note how this likely means that it has somehow magically morphed from 2p.m. into 6p.m.) Everyone was happy. The Captain and I chat about wood and splitting and other random things. I mention that I will split just a few more and be done for the night, and finish up in the morning. The Captain looks around at the dozen or so pieces left and offhandedly asks “why don’t you just finish them all now?” He obviously does not understand that twilight is falling, mosquitoes are buzzing, and that *someone* still has to make dinner tonight.

But, I don’t like to back down from a challenge. Especially when it makes some sense.

I’m pretty sure we ate leftovers at about 8 p.m., but that wood was split, baby!

Part 2: The Brushpile

We have a lot of trees and shrubs here at the house. We’ve spent a good part of each of our 8 summers trimming back and cutting down, shredding and chipping, and definitely burning.

About once a year we have the Big Fire where we burn all the stuff that we’ve taken out during the year. This year was no different – but in addition to the usual stuff, we had some monster hunks of cedar from diseased trees we took down earlier in the summer. I’m talking about a dozen or so cubes of wood 18″ – 24″ cubes or larger. We’d rolled them down to the fire pit where they’d sat all summer, soaking up groundwater in the dappled shade. We had no idea whether they’d burn, but we were going to give it our best shot.

What we started with:


oh, yeah – we had this pile of branches, too:

Everything was much wetter than we’d expected. It took several dousings of various fire-starting liquids (which I will not name here, because I don’t want my mom to freak out) and nearly an entire book of matches before we even could light the thing.

The Captain was helping the fire along with the blower – a little tip we got from the Firemen when we got our burn permit.

Safety First: We had our own fire marshal on site.

He personally oversaw all operations, start to finish.

It took a good hour of messing about before the fire was finally hot enough to really start working, and before we could add more fuel. By the end of the afternoon, it was pretty clear that the big hunks weren’t going to burn down, so after everything else had been worked through, we just piled it the big pieces all up together and sat together in the gathering darkness watching the bright flames and glowing embers, and listening to the crackle of the fire.

It was a good day.

Part 3: More wood? Surely you jest.

We don’t run out of wood-related things to do here at CI.

Sunday we woke up to this:

Here in the PNW, any day after October 1 that includes sunshine is a gift. You do not spend it indoors.

I was on my second cup of coffee when the Captain ambles in from a walk outside with the boys. They’d been out to check the fire, which had amazingly managed to burn down quite well during they night. He’d put on a few dry pieces of wood from the woodshed to get it burning again, and it looked like this (I still can’t believe all that wood cooked down overnight! And check out that lovely empty spot where all the branches had been!)

But I digress… so the Captain ambles in and casually asks, “Hey, can you help me outside for just a minute?”

Now, warning bells should have been ringing loudly for me. I’ve heard that line before, and it has NEVER been either “just” nor “a minute”. But I have a very horrible and short memory (JB especially will attest to this), and so of course I said yes and that I’d be out in a jiff.

This is what I saw when I got outside:

Uh oh. NOT a good sign.

The Captain says “I’m thinking about taking down a couple of trees.”

How do I always get myself hooked into these hare-brained schemes? (Don’t tell the Captain that I was taking a picture while he was actually cutting into the tree.)

Oh, and btw – this was tree #2…. Not pictured: Trees #1, #3 and #4, because really – do you want to see that??

OK, let’s pause a moment to understand what “just a minute” means here at CI:

  • When I abandon the sweet nectar of my second cup of coffee: 9:37 a.m. 
  • When I’m done pulling down trees, hauling branches, and tending the re-vitalized fire: 4:16 p.m.

But it was so beautiful out, and we had so much fun, that the day simply sped by. The boys were absolutely no help, but they were entertaining. And, most satisfyingly, we had everything cleaned up and moved out before we finished for the afternoon, and that was a wonderful feeling.

By the end of the day we were exhausted, but felt great. The entire day had been full of sunshine and crisp air and good exercise. And although I might grumble a bit in the beginning, working around the house with the Captain is one of my favorite things to do.

Part 4: In the end is the beginning

And so this morning as I walked about, there were real results to see: The fire had burned all the way down – every last bit of wood had been consumed.

And and all the branches and wood from the trees we felled had been hauled to their waiting spots:

Hey! Wait a minute!!

Guess I’m right back where I started.   :->


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