Saturday, October 07, 2006

Blocks to Sticks

About two months ago, we had a big tree taken down near the power lines. I requested that the wood be blocked up in firewood size blocks and put at the end of the driveway so I could split them at a later point. Somewhere in that, the tree guy heard that he should dump everything about 80 feet from the end of the driveway. Sigh. Last weekend we spent about half a day rolling each block the 80 feet to the driveway so we could split it.

I ordered the log splitter earlier in the week and we had it Saturday. From 9:00 until about 4:30, we were out splitting the big blocks into fireplace sized sticks. Valerie worked the splitter and I got to split the wood. It went pretty good, but we're both sore tonight. Yes, all this wood was from one tree.

While splitting wood, it brought back memories of splitting wood with my Dad. The wood season usually started in the summer when we would venture to a friends camp in the Adirondack mountains. My Dad, Bruce, and Reggie would select trees that were dead and take them down. Then the trees were blocked up and left to dry for a few months. When Fall came, we'd venture back to camp to pick up the blocks and bring them back. That's when the hard work started.

I operated the controls as Dad hefted the humongous blocks up wood up on the horizontal splitter (the old kind, that didn't tip up vertical). We'd work as a team, he lifting and either gesturing with his hand or nodding his head when he was read for me to push. Occasionally I'd miss the cue or be daydreaming and he'd look at me for a few seconds before waving his hands. He was probably wishing my brother were at the controls, but he never lost any fingers.

When the splitting was done, it was the kids job to bring the wood to the shed where it lay protected until it was ready to be used. I'd load up the wheel-barrow, wheel it for what seemed like miles (although it was maybe 50 yards), dump, and do it all over again. And again, and again, and again. Once there was enough wood, Dad would show us how to stack it. We built vertical columns of wood on the end and stacked the rest in the middle. All three of us would be out there stacking wood, Dad making corrections along the way so the pile rose 6 feet high as perpendicular as if measured with a square. That wood eventually heated our house in the winter, usually the year after it was split.

Tomorrow, I stack. To this day I can still stack wood without any end supports.

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