…. ere the winter storms begin’*. Farmers round these parts worry about getting the harvest in at this time of year. Malcolm and I worry about getting wood for winter, for the log burner. So we ordered some and it came this week.
From this, three large bags of it ….
to this … in two long, sweaty and back-breaking shifts, warming us every bit as much as a blazing winter fire does. Unpack the bags, and neatly stack every single log in tidy tall rows in the shed.
You’re meant to be impressed at our hard work.
We’ve got ash, valued for its steady heat output and bright flame: and oak, a dense, long-burning wood with a small flame. We’ve stacked them so we can access either. Can you spot the difference?
I was walking back from my friend Claire’s through Beatswell Wood the other day when I noticed it. A fallen branch. A nicely rotting fallen branch. Then smaller branches, conveniently broken into wood-burning-stove like lengths. My inner French peasant knocked urgently at my brain. ‘You can’t leave those!’ she said, in perfect English. ‘Fuel for free! Whaddya mean you’ve got no bag? What are arms for? Get on with it!’
And it’s true. No self-respecting French country person – man or woman – would think of leaving for a walk without a just-in-case (‘au cas où’) bag. Here’s an account of what we used to do in France, especially in autumn.
Scouting in the woods.
It’s definitely autumn …..
…. as you can see…..
Yesterday we were better prepared. We both set forth, equipped with large strong bags, just big enough to collect stove-length pieces of wood, or ones dried out enough to break in two. A stout thick branch each – to be sawn up later – completed our haul. Kindling sorted. A day or two’s heat sorted. Well, you know what they say about wood, and about how it heats you several times? We aren’t woodcutters. But we do gather it, then stack it, then burn it. That’s three times. That’s good value.
Malcolm, bearing a branch.
Not free wood. But it burns brighter, and for longer.