Every day I walk a few miles in the neighborhoods of my town. These days, more and more houses are sporting a sure sign of spring: cords of firewood, neatly stacked and beautifully arranged as if by a sculptor. No sooner do we get through one winter than we get ready for the next. The sight of wood, seasoning in the open, or under the cover of a roof or a plastic canopy, is as comforting to us who live in country towns as anything I know.
I don’t know what can give an urbanite a similar surge of comfort. A bank statement? A reserved parking space? I have no clue, but this past weekend I spent a warm May day happily stacking my first cord and half. I admit I’m not the artisan I wish I were. I actually have woodpile envy. I see neighbors whose stacks look as if they could withstand a hurricane. They must have played much longer with Lincoln Logs than I did.
I start off wanting my wood to look beautiful and tight — but after an hour or so, I lose a bit of patience, and instead of fitting the perfect piece into just the right opening, I reason that in six months I’ll just be toting the wood upstairs straight to the stove. So I go more for the modern-art look: a bit helter-skelter, hoping my neighbors will admire the fine chunks of oak and maple and cherrywood I’ve acquired, rather than the design.
This is my first spring in my old house by the river that I’ve bought with Annie, so it’s the first woodpile my neighbors will have a chance to observe and from which get a reading on me I imagine. On my walk today, I saw a woodpile at the top of a nearby hill where the woodpile architect had fitted his split logs in a fashion I hadn’t thought of. My next cords will arrive soon. I’ll shamelessly model my next stack on my neighbor’s. I hope my patience matches my desire.