February 27, 2020

Burning Up Perspective

• By John F. Chisholm •

I am refilling the woodshed.

It holds around four and a half cord. Obviously I’m not refilling all that in one day. In fact, the older I grow the longer it takes me to refill it. This year will take even longer. That’s because during a normal winter I cut the replacement wood and pile it out back, ready to split and stack come spring. Unfortunately, as we all know, this past winter was anything but normal. The snow was far too deep to neatly or, much more importantly, safely fell trees. If a tree decides to go the wrong way, how fast are you going to get out of the way, wading through four feet of snow?

In other words, I still have to bring in wood. Fortunately, there’s a lot down. As mentioned, it was a hard winter. That’s true from any number of perspectives, including the trees’.

That reminded me of the old saw: You always know when winter in Maine is finally over when the residents start preparing for the next. It’s true. You can’t burn out of your woodshed when it’s full of green wood seasoning. Sure, there’s plenty of dry wood in the barn, but that’s a farther haul. The result? I don’t even begin refilling the shed until I’m confident the heating season is over.

That time is finally here. Whew. I’m so-o-o glad. But I still have to refill the shed. That changes my attitude. In a hurry, too.

It’s all perspective, isn’t it? Our woodshed isn’t anywhere big enough while we’re burning out of it. It takes more than four and a half cord to heat this house through a winter. In fact, it takes about another cord to a cord and a half beyond that. Even more if my wife is home.

On the other hand, that shed is way-y-y too big come time to refill it. Come lend a hand splitting and stacking wood if you don’t believe me.

I wipe the sweat from my brow and think about that.

Far too often we lack the opposing perspective when we look at issues. That’s particularly true when we look at other people and other people’s problems. Sure, the wood’s right in front of me as I’m stacking it ― or bringing it into the house to burn. That makes this issue crystal clear to me, especially right now. But that doesn’t mean I’m clairvoyant. However, it does strike me as oddly profound:

Isn’t it curious how the most menial tasks carry their own lessons? Ones that can only be learned by being part of both ends of a process.