Monday, January 31, 2011

Gathering wood and life lessons...

Our destination - the local state park on a sunny day - My sister is a Park Ranger there.

This is what it was doing right before we left to go gather wood at the park!

It rained, no, it poured here in the Northwest two weekends ago.  On Sunday I woke up all cosy in my down covered bed, just the tip of my nose peaking out, listened to the rain outside, and looked over at my sweetie with pleading eyes.

"Is that rain I hear?" I asked tenatively.


I paused and let this sink in.

A little bit of a whine may have entered my voice at this point as I snuggled under the covers even further and asked, "Do we still HAVE to go cut wood?"

"Yep." More firmly this time.

My heart sunk a bit. Darnit anyways.

Now you should know I enjoy going with the family to get wood, but I hate to be wet and cold.  I prefer a crisp Fall day to a wet, windy, Winter day.  The wood we were after was at the state park where my sister is a park ranger.  As the trees had been taken down in the park by the state arborist the day before, and the wood is available on a  first come first serve basis, we needed to get it while the getting was good.

So up we got, showered, coffee'd ourselves and breakfasted everyone else and prepared for a long day in the woods.

I should explain what this involves:

Before leaving we assembly line seven sandwiches on the cutting board - that's fourteen pieces of bread all spread out, with a large spatula for the peanut butter and jelly, and away we go.  These are practical, not gourmet sandwiches so the PB is slapped on uncermoniously and followed up with a generous slathering of marionberry jelly, the two slices for each sandwich clapped together and towered on a large piece of tinfoil.  The tinfoil is then folded and scrunched around the tower of sandwiches and placed in a recycled plastic grocery bag. 

To this we add the following: Juice boxes for all the kids, bottled water for everyone, granola bars, apples, bananas, individual packs of teddy grahams or some such snacky thing, and a large bag of potato chips (everything can't be healthy!)

Since Mama is perpetually COLD, a large thermos of scalding hot water is prepared, and several teabags of Twinings English Breakfast are added to the mix.  I admit that I have to have my tea with sugar, so a small ziplock baggie with raw sugar and a plastic spoon is included as well.  A change of pants for the little boys, who are sure to fall into the mud wherever they can find it, warm hats coats and gloves for everyone, rubber boots or work boots, and we are off!

Fortunately we had a brief reprieve from the rain so by the time we actually arrived in the park, it was cold but dry.  Yeah!

I should mention that cutting wood is one of Craig's favorite things to do.  He is literally in heaven with his chainsaw, chain oil, file for sharpening, and freshly felled wood just waiting to be sawed up.  I suppose I could send Craig out to saw up the wood by himself. But I happen to be a firm believer that working physically together as a team is a wonderful way to strengthen your relationship - the planning for and execution of something as basic as getting firewood together is something you look back on when you are perched in front of a cosy fire, with a hot cuppa tea and your sweetie beside you. "We did that together." you think as you cuddle up and watch the fire flicker.

Papa and the boys getting the chainsaw ready
As well, I happen to enjoy woodgetting.  I grew up going with family friends nearly every year to cut wood, so I too have fond memories of warming cold hands at bondfires in forest clearings, steamy breath angels and stomping cold feet to keep them warm, hauling wood to pickup trucks and just generally enjoying being part of something as basic as gathering wood to stay warm.  

And there is nothing better for our children than to see their Mama and Papa working together, helping each other, joking and laughing as they pass each other water, a cup of steaming tea in the thermos top, or a PB&J sandwich.  While the children are reveling in being out of
doors, as we hand them each pieces of wood that are appropriate for their size, they swell with pride at being included in this important family 'work'.   They laugh at me as I roll the freshly cut rounds that are much to big for me to lift down the hill and over to the truck for Papa to lift later. 

Mama rolling those huge logs to the truck!  (how do you like the hot pink gloves?)

It's also no small joke to be without this wood if the power goes out in the winter and we are left without a heat source.  We are lucky to have a huge Russian fireplace upstairs and a wood burning stove downstairs, so we plan ahead to use wood to keep warm if we do lose power.

Liam, Age 3 and ready to go!

Eamonn, age 2, is ready to go with the chain oil and the ear protection!

So we gathered wood, loaded it in the truck and brought it home and dumped it in a pile in the back yard. I had to smile when Liam, smiling a sleepy smile, spontaneously announced from the back seat on the ride home, "We need to do this day again!"
And Eamonn was right behind him with, "I wan' go woods 'gain!"

Of course there is nothing better after a long day in the woods
than a fresh batch of homemade cinnamon rolls!


This past weekend Craig chopped all those hard won rounds up as Liam, Eamonn and I fed him piece after piece until we had most of it split.  Then we worked together to get it stacked neatly so it will dry and be ready for next winter.  Very satisfying!
Tonite we will take the few dry pieces we have left and have a cosy fire.  I think another fresh batch of cinnamon rolls is in order for my hardworking team...What do you think?


Rebecca Anthony said...

Sounds like a perfect day and positively rewarding!! That's such a great feeling when you have feel like you have had a productive day but a family day at the same time is pure bliss!! Lovely post, I really enjoyed reading this!

Jenny Blair said...

Awwww, I so enjoyed reading about your family day out to the woods...especialy LOVED the unceremonious sandwichmaking! heehee :)And yay for potato chips and sugar in your tea. (I always have to take out a little bit of sugar on our picniks too!..well..gotta keep us mumma's sweet!!) Thankyou for sharing your wonder-full day in those beautiful surroundings :)x

Jg. for FatScribe said...

my two sons and i were just talking about when we would read the winnie the pooh books. we were discussing what a small forest is called, and my ten yr-old said, "a woods." classic memories. great post ... as always. i nominated, er, awarded really, you for a little award over at my place. have a great week!

Tammie Lee said...

wow such a great story. I enjoyed every bit. I love that photo of Liam up on the rock. your boys are so cute, all of them ;-}
I was so happy that I could click on the photo of you and it got big and I could see lovely you!
That must feel so good to have next years wood all stacked. I bow to you~

Millie said...

You are a better person than me Julia - I leave all the wood chopping, splitting, stacking & carting to MOTH. Of course I do supervise him via the high window of the Living Room where I'm happily tucked up & point out to him any mistakes he's making. And he loves it - NOT!
Millie x

Jessie said...

Oh but it's so very satisfying to do outdoor jobs really isn't it?! Especially at the end when it's finished! ;) Sounds like you had a lovely time.xx said...

oh this is a WONDERFUL post!! Your kids are adorable and you look great!! It is hilarious that your husband LOVES the whole chainsaw wood thing because mine does too. He is always ahead on the supply because he enjoys it so much. He gets all the kids together and they all do the job. Most of the time i get out of it (te he he) but i have a lot of bigger ones :-) GREAT POST!! I would be cold too!! Mmm... the rolls look scrumptious!! said...

oh, and GREAT sharing that you work together and enjoy it!! i need to remember to have that good attitude ;-)

Sarah Lounsbury said...

I love that drawing that you have been working on! FANTASTIC! Those rolls are an example of beauty! Thanks for the comment...
my 'screen' door is always open!