It’s that time of year when you forecast your fuel/wood needs and size up your supply. Some may feel comfort, eyeing up their abundant stacks with pride. Others, myself included, have watched this relatively warm early winter devour more of the supply than predicted.
And with the true cold snaps forthcoming, fear of hypothermia or massive oil bills sets in. Strangely, the sympathy of others is lost when your excuse is that you were fishing rather than squirreling away the fibre.
Snow accumulates, temperatures drop. You may have been dumb enough to not do this in July, but you’re smart enough to know November is better than January for an ill-timed firewood effort.
With the side roads and ditches blanketed in snow, you realize this isn’t going to be fun.
Appropriate personal firewood permits are in place, the saw is sharp, the back is willing and a few Redbulls compensate for a lack of enthusiasm.
You drive out along the highway and turn the sight filter to dead-top scan mode. Locating a snag, you ensure the land is indeed public because you know cutting the wrong Yukoner’s private trees may lead to a fatal altercation.
You walk off the road shoulder with chainsaw in hand – Whump! – and sink to your knees in the restraining white stuff. You waddle to the tree like a lumberjack penguin, breaking sweat and exertion before the actual work starts.
Man this would have been easy two months ago.
You drop and buck the tree, and in the absence of a snow machine, you’re forced to employ the human-mule technique. You grab a block and pretend your “Arnie Swartz” in the opening scene of Commando (Arnie you are not).
After an unpleasant struggle to the road, you heave your first block onto the back of the truck – not so bad. Then you calculate that this block required burning 200 calories and has a heating time of roughly one hour. Perhaps running on a treadmill to heat the house with body heat would be more effective.
Four hundred firewood blocks and 10 looks of laughter by onlookers later, and you’re done. With a sore back and sore pride, you head back to town.
You pass by “Billy Bachelor’s” place and see that he is promoting his ample stacks like a bull moose would display his rack during the rut. Jerk. You pass by “Johnny Retiree’s” place and see that he is peeling the bark off his monumental wood mounds to preclude a bark mess in his house (insert adjective of choice here).
You know there will be several more days like this, in the near future, and the shame takes hold. To ease the pain, you start to schedule your summer 2010 weekend fishing trips. They’re all booked up, from breakup to ice-up. Man, there’s going to be some good fishing next summer.