It has come to my attention that some people miss my blog postings. I am flattered by this. My blog posts always seem to be a rambling unstructured stream of consciousness with the main benefit to me … the writer … as if my readers were my collective psychoanalyst … saying in unison… “And how did that make you feel?”
So here goes another one.
I have finally joined the 21st century and I am in the process of loading music from CDs on to my iPhone. I know… “1999 called, they want their technology back.” (I love that line). This is ironic since I am now working on websites full time, lately morphing from web development to search engine optimization with a focus on Google Analytics. I think the problem always was that I kept starting to load my music into iTunes just about the time my hard drive would pack it in, so it would just go by the wayside. And firewood would beckon. Or rototilling. Or of late … Netflix!
One of the songs I transferred was Kim Stockwood’s “12 Years Old.” It’s a great song.
I have a new perspective since I first heard it. She has a line in it about having a bad time because her ‘bike’s been stolen’ and her ‘dog just died.’ I never had a dog when I first heard this song, and so I had no idea about the emotional impact this can have on you. I have, in fact, had a number of bikes stolen in my 58 years, so I get that part of the song.
I often find of late that the time between now and then, where I’m at right now and my high school years, and even public school days, sometimes seems really short. It’s like “Crap, where did those 4+ decades go?” Other times it does seem like a long time ago, but I think I’m blessed to not have too many aches and pains, so I often still feel pretty young. Twelve might be pushing it, but at this time of year there are times ….
This is firewood season where I get to get out and marvel at the beauty of our 150 acres and selectively harvest next year’s firewood. Our property is rectangular so it’s always a long way to the various places I cut. We do have an old road that I use in the spring to take the truck down and pick up the wood I’ve cut, but at this time of year I cut it in the bush and haul it out in sleds to where I can get to it with the truck.
That’s right, I use one of those sleds made to be pulled behind a snow mobile, and pull it, by hand, with just me, through the woods. We have some amazing hills and a lot of the pulling is uphill. Then there’s the whole trying to guide it down the hill. I do believe this is a pretty low impact way to harvest wood. I’m not building new trails. I’m not making roads. In fact, I’m pretty selective in making sure I don’t damage any little trees, that I want to become big trees.
Now as I head out to cut I have to laugh at myself. Most (many?) people in my part of the world tend to displace human calories with fossil fuel calories of energy. This involves tractors and ATVs, and any number of motorized vehicles that allow you to access the woods … and to not get stuck.
And then there’s me.
I load up the saws and equipment and head out to the bush, pulling my sled. Obviously, feeling like I’m 12 years old. And certainly looking like it, I’m sure.
When I lived in rural Eastern Ontario as a kid I had a Globe and Mail paper route. It’s a morning paper and we lived in a crazy subdivision where the houses are about ½ mile apart. But there I was, every day, Monday to Saturday (including Christmas) heading off to the mailboxes to pick up the papers and deliver them to my customers. In the summer, I had a big basket on my bike I put the papers in, but once there was snow on the ground, I pulled a sled. In the winter, I left my house in the dark and it was often really cold and snowy and I’d come home with my balaclava encased in ice from my breath, and as I as recall, it was pretty awesome. I think I really liked it. Well, what I liked was getting paid and the tips.
Later in life I started reading the Globe & Mail and I realized how nice it would have been to have someone deliver it to me. I can remember in the 1960s getting $5 and $10 tips at Christmas (which seemed like a jackpot to me) and wondering what the heck was wrong with these people? If I’d known then what I know now, I would have tripled my rates and I’m confident I wouldn’t have lost a customer.
I look back fondly on those days, so as I head out with my sled to cut firewood, I do wrestle with this feeling of inferiority. If I was a real country person, I’d be heading out in my Ford F250 … no F450, and burning gas like it was going out of style.
Instead, I walk silently and marvel at where I live. I do believe the peace and quiet are a profound way to help one contemplate gratitude. When I think back to my paper route I think about how if I went away for a week my friend Teddy King would take it over, but was never able to make any money at it. Teddy died a few years ago, so any day I get to walk in my woods I’m grateful. The fact that I have these woods to sustainably harvest from is a huge gift. I am so grateful some sort of cosmic energy brought me here.
I am grateful that my kids will have these trees to keep them warm in the future, and that my grandchildren will have these woods to explore. When I harvest trees I’m pretty careful to leave lots of younger trees that will thrive in the newly freed up sunlight. I am extremely grateful that I’m still healthy enough for all this wood hauling. Oh, there’s shoulder aches and shin splints and the sore back and … but really, nothing major. I am blessed to live a time of abundance and in a place where I have such freedom to choose how I live, without the threat of someone coming and taking it by force. I think I was born at just about the right time.
Speaking of 12 years olds, you know what 12 year olds love? Pizza and Dr. Pepper and watching TV! And as long as I’m gonna eat like a 12-year-old I figure I’d better keep burning off all those darn empty calories. Grab that sled, there’s wood to haul, slacker! What a perfect life!