Brain Dropping #153 – Firewood.
For the first time in twenty years my woodpile had dwindled down to one third of a cord at the beginning of February, making me very uneasy. It had been a consistently cold winter. I called Pat Stanley, my reliable firewood guy, and ordered an additional cord of wood dry enough to burn without creosote problems. Creosote in green wood will condense out as the smoke cools going up the chimney coating the stove pipe and flue, creating the danger of a dreaded chimney fire that can burn your house down. not having a healthy wood pile when you heat with wood can give you bad dreams.
In a few days Pat delivered the wood in his dump truck. It was a load of Rock Maple, Birch, Beech and Hardhack or American Hornbeam, also known as Ironwood because of its density – excellent BTU factor. Pat maneuvered the truck close to the garage opening and raised the truck bed, neatly tumbling the cord half-in and half-out of the garage. I gave up stacking my wood years ago and built a crib inside the garage out of two by sixes and heave the wood in helter-skelter. It’s not as efficient space-wise but easier on my back. Neatly stacking firewood requires more positioning and adjustment therefore more bending.
Snow was coming and it was imperative to get the wood in before it was buried and frozen together. In the past I took pride in doing this myself but I wasn’t sure my back would hold out. I started nice and easy and was doing pretty well while resting every now and then in a lawn chair. But I soon realized that it would be more pleasant and faster with some help. I called my good friend Doug Reaves but his message machine came on and I cursed myself for waiting until the last minute. Luckily, he got the message and arrived in fifteen minutes. The first thing he asked me was about the order of things – what was my method? “I’m just heaving it into the corner of the crib and letting the wood find it’s own angle of repose.” Doug chuckled at that.
I remember reading a novel by Wallace Stegner titled “Angle Of Repose” about family relationships. Stegner explained that when a pile of sand unloaded from a dump-truck stops cascading down it forms a stable pyramid at the “angle of repose.” I believe there’s a mathematical equation for that angle. Looking at the woodpile Doug and I flung into the crib relieves any anxiety I may have had about keeping the house warm for Gail and me until warm weather finally arrives. You might say I’ve arrived at an angle of repose.