Sep 9, 2017

Cowichan Wood

Breath deeply.
Ahh … the smell of Autumn is in the air.
It’s only a couple of weeks away.

A couple of months ago I ordered a chord of firewood. It came from a family of loggers who harvest wood on their woodlot. They also have a contract to scavenge logging sites for fallen logs that don’t make the grade for building houses.

A chord should last the winter in our small cottage. We have electric baseboard heaters, but a wood fire is so much cheaper and better. We plan to turn off the heaters and use our wood fire totally this winter.

The wood was delivered on a July day; early for winter, but to season wood properly it needs to sit a few months drying in a woodpile.  Upon delivery, I had to walk the cut wood, piece by piece, up our slope to the open woodshed. There, I stacked it.

There’s a special way to stack a chord of firewood. A chord is 4 feet x 4 feet x 8 feet;
it should be stacked in rows with a space between so the wood can dry successfully. Dry, seasoned, firewood is key to a good fire.

I’ve been reading a wonderful book about harvesting, drying and stacking firewood. “Norwegian Wood” was a best seller a couple of years ago, and it poetically explains the art of managing wood, almost as a vocation or a meditation.

A best seller about wood? There are lots of households around the world that heat with wood, and today with electricity rates being so expensive, some people are looking for alternative ways to heat. A good book about wood is timely. For centuries man’s main source of heat and cooked food has been the wood stove or fireplace. Electricity is recent, so is natural gas. Harvesting, stacking, drying and burning wood is more natural for which we, in today’s world, give credit.

“Norwegian Wood” is written by a Norwegian woodsman/author who aptly marketed his book with the name of one of the Beatles’ songs. Why not? He couldn’t have done it legitimately as a Swede, a Dane or a Canadian.

The book is an excellent source of vital information about firewood, including; the wood (species of trees), tools (axes, saws, chainsaws etc.), stacking, drying, wood stoves, fireplaces, warmth, cozyness, including a few, interesting characters.

Most of our new shipment of wood is Coastal Douglas Fir, a Western, North America species that used to be plentiful on Vancouver Island. Old growth has now been logged to almost extinction. Perhaps I should feel sad about them logging such a resource.  However, I’m sure it will keep us warm next winter.

Now, my sharp axe comes into play as I chop kindling and hack the wood down to a good size for our fireplace.  There are great meditative qualities of staring at a fire in a fireplace with your feet up, relaxing.

“There is no place more delightful than one's own fireplace.” - Marcus T. Cicero

“Though you live near a forest, do not waste firewood.” - Chinese Proverb

“Chop your own firewood and it will warm you twice.” - African Proverb

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” Zen Proverb

“Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” - Francis Bacon