The woodstove in my home chugs away for half the year, requiring endless tending: We feed it, we fiddle with it, we fix it, we huddle close to it.
Each day, firewood that has been meticulously stacked outside during the fall will be brought in, armful by armful. In the corner by the stove, the pile of wood rises and recedes like the tides of the ocean. When it has receded completely, the time has come to pull on boots, work gloves, and a hat, and zip on a sturdy coat.
Outside, it’s likely that the wind is blowing and the footing is unstable. The snow, ice, and melt from the roof creates a treacherous wood-gathering experience, one that asks me to slow down, breathe slowly, and move carefully.
Gathering wood is technically an easy task, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t involve a great deal of attention. As I pile wood into my arms, I am making decisions about which log to choose and how it will fit into the growing pile in my arm. I am thinking about my stance, which direction the wind is blowing from, and how heavy a load I can handle.
Walking inside is a relief, as the rush of warmth surrounds my body. But instead of sinking into it, I drop off the wood in the corner and turn around for another load. Filling up the firewood corner takes me four to five trips, which for me is a lesson in patience. I can’t rush the task of gathering wood because rushing usually leads to slipping on ice, dropping a log on my toe, or getting frustrated.
Instead, I know what I have to do: breathe deep, stay present, and try to enjoy the process. Yes, it is technically a chore. Yes, it takes longer than I’d prefer, stealing minutes away from my time in the warmth of the house.
But how lucky I am to be surrounded by forests who are abundant enough to offer up this fuel. And how lucky that I get to work from home and remain involved in the tending of my home. And the ash that we clean out from the stove each morning will be spread on the fields in the spring, which means that the forests that surround us, the firewood that warms us, and the soil that sustains us remain connected in the sacred cycle of life on this piece of land, and on this earth.