Sunday, December 19, 2010


We began our morning with a walk in the woods. We have been following the ongoing drama, told in foot prints, of the struggle between the pack of coyotes that inhabit the woods around our home and the snowshoe hair that sustain them. We find small mouse prints in the snow. They seem to bear witness to the primal struggle between predator and prey without necessarily participating in the tangle of claw, fur and flesh.

Mark and I are in the lead while Evan tags along behind; stopping to pick up every stick, singing songs to himself as he stops for every footprint in the light layer of snow. This is a familiar trail to these men in my life. It leads to the moose skeleton, the small cabin in the woods, to the top of the hill. I am rediscovering it in this new season at our new home. I find beauty in the leaves spread down like a collage framed in snow.

It is Sunday and we are taking a reprieve from driving in a car. We have a long list of to-dos. So as we walk we plan to put up more firewood for the winter. I ask if I can chop some wood. The division of labors have never been clearly defined in our home. We all just assume those chores that speak to our strengths. For me this is work in the kitchen. For Mark it is putting the wood up, anything mechanical. Recently, I had a conversation with a woman who shared that when she needs to let off a little steam she chops wood. It never occurred to me that I could chop wood. This act of putting up wood has always been a partnership between the man who cuts the wood with the chain saw and chops it and the woman who stacks it.

So after a light lunch and settling a wee one down for his nap, Mark and I head out to the wood pile where there is a small pile of logs to be chopped. I watch as Mark skillfully lifts the ax over his head and swings it down hard on to the log balanced on the chopping block. With one blow he chops it in two. He explains every thing he is doing. Balance, safety, aim. I then take the lighter ax, lift it over my head. It is heavy. I can only think about how to control the ax, I can only think about aim. The ax falls and lands on the corner of the log, it falls to the ground. I try again and a small chip is freed. My third blow falls to the left of the chopping block. My fourth try splits the log in two. Mark stays with me while I try another and then head off to take care of some work with his chainsaw. I stay with this work until I have created a small pile of kindling. Oh well...practice, practice, practice.


Wendy said...

Seems like today's theme was firewood ;). We were chopping wood today, and I have a really funny story about it, but I'll put it on my blog, as it's long ;).

Suffice it to say that, according to my husband, my skill with a maul is a little like a particular natural phenomenon ;).

Robj98168 said...

You can do it! Just takes practice.

Mouse said...

The woods out that way are beautiful! I'm so glad you've gotten to enjoy it! We're actually making a trip out to my in-laws later this weekend to mark trees for possibly trimming out in the spring. The woods in general are beautiful, but there's something to be said about that area. :-)