Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The smell of cut wood

Aaah, spring is here! The birds are singing, the grass is green, and the trees are in bloom. We've got calves dropping, a crop to prepare, fence to fix, and even a pregnant cat. Yep, spring is here! Praise. the. Lord.

Naturally, as is the season, it is time for yard work, and on Sunday, we did some as a family. I know, I of rest. The thing is, though, that on a farm with a guy who has two full-time careers, doing yard work is actually "restful". It is unnecessary to the health of the farm. It is frivolous, if you will. And for me, who holds down the fort around here by myself much (ahem, most) of the time, having adult companionship in the yard is a true treat. And so it is that we found ourselves outside in the yard as a family on Sunday to do some spring sprucing. It was a lovely day, complete with warm sunshine and nice breezes. Dan went over to the other farm place to retrieve the riding garden tiller, whilst the children and I began the mowing and tree trimming here. It was at this moment that I happened upon a bush that was crowding the garden spot, making it impossible to get the mower through, so, naturally, I wanted it trimmed. Proving itself much greater that the boy-powered "loppers" in the hands of my skinny 12-year-old, I went for the chainsaw. With flashbacks of woodcutting days in Colorado racing through my brain, I thought, "oh, yea, I can do this."

Um, notsomuch. I couldn't even start the dumb thing.

And so, how did I handle it? As any self-respecting woman married to a manly-man such as mine, I set the bright orange chainsaw down in the yard, right at the base of the offending bush, where Dan would be sure to notice it when he returned. (Subtle, eh?) Well, notice he did, and pretty soon the chainsaw was humming, the woodchips were flying, the smell of wood was thick in the air, and I was instantly 13 again and in the Colorado mountains. Growing up in Denver, we had a wood-burning stove in our fireplace, and it was my father's sheer delight to heat the house with it as much as he could. It would roar for much of the mild Denver winters, creating a home with the most welcoming and toasty family room around, and bedrooms of blankets to combat the cool, crisp upstairs air.

The best part of having a wood stove...the fire. The worst part...the wood cutting.

What seemed like every single Saturday of every single summer for years, was spent loading up into a pickup truck and winding our way up into the backroads of the front range for the "perfect" woodcutting area. Mind you, there were five of us kids in the family, and we used one topper pickup for the job. My youngest sister would have the privilege of sitting in the cab, while the other four of us would bounce around in the back of the pickup. Not being able to really see out of the tiny windows in the topper, one of us was usually carsick. The gravel (dirt) roads were washboard roads with sheer drop-offs a frequent occurance. I can still hear my Mom gasping for breath when she though Dad got too close to the edge, and I am surprised she never put her foot through the floorboard trying to use her brake. The pickup rides were, to say the least, an arduous affair.

Once we had arrived at the "perfect" woodcutting spot, greeted only by the whisper of pine trees in the breeze and the whine of a chainsaw in the distance, we commenced the cutting. Dad would man the chainsaw, us kids would yell "TIMBER!!", and tree after tree would fall. After Dad had removed all the branches and created logs out of what was once a pole, Mom would assemble us into a "chain gang". She would assign one of us to attend to my youngest sister while the other three of us hauled logs. And so it would go, log after log transported from Dad, to Stacy, to Greg, to me, to Mom, who would stack them in the truck. On the next tree, Stacy would babysit and Nikki would jump into the chain gang. And the next tree, and the next tree, and the next it went for an entire day, until the truck was filled to the brim leaving only enough room in the back for four little bodies.

Yep, that is right, we were slave labor who had to ride on the wood on the winding way home, back down the washboard gravel (dirt) roads, all the way to Denver, each of us exhausted and irritated with the other, as our butts fell fully and completely asleep. Torture. Sheer torture. My friends were at the pool, or reading Nancy Drew, or recording songs off the radio with a hand-held cassette recorder, while poor moi was cutting wood. I found it utterly disgusting at the time.

Praise the Lord, however, that hindsight is 20/20, and what was once the shame of my pubescent life, is now one of my sweetest memories.
Know what I love most about woodcutting?...
the smell of cut wood
the smell of a chainsaw
the roar of a chainsaw, especially from far away
the total silence of the mountain forests
the sound of a tree crashing to the ground
the kid-made "forts" at the base of a pine tree
the hole in the ground for a toilet
the cheers and chants kids make up when having a chain gang
the feel of a washboard road
the roar of a campfire

God has, in His infinitely amazing and wonderous grace, taken what I once deemed an arduous task, and weaved it into a beautiful memory. It is fully laced into who I am, and my favorite pasttime of all is to sit by a campfire. I absolutely adore the smell of cut wood and smoke. Crazy, huh? No, it's just God.

And what, I wonder, is He going to do with some of what I consider are today's most arduous tasks?...
doing the dishes for a family of eight twice a day
cleaning up after yet another potty accident
picking up the trail of cookie crumbs on the carpet
tripping over stuffed animals and toy trains
driving to practices and games
leading an elementary youth group
planning a VBS for 100 children
bottle-feeding an orphaned calf
house-training a puppy
training up a child in the way he should go
washing 13 loads a week
nursing hurts
bandaging cuts
combing out tangles
and on
and on
and on.

Arduous? yes. Exhausting? yes. Humbling? yes. Useful? yes. Wasted? not one second. So totally worth it? yes. A thousand times, yes. Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

I can't wait for the next campfire.

1 comment:

mandy said...

alright shel...! I remember helping a little... maybe...? I was potty trained on those trip, important stuff ya know? I love it though, I can smell the wood now!