There is just something about stacked firewood that hints of a simpler life. Maybe it’s linked to the manual labor required to locate, cut, split, load/unload, and stack it? Maybe it’s the fleeting feeling of independence, a being “off-the-grid?” Maybe it’s nostalgia-a flood of childhood memories that include the woodpile behind the house and the Sunday family naps around the woodstove? Or maybe it’s the fresh scent of cedar kindling?
Whatever it is, I prefer wood heat and the entire process it involves. Though backbreaking work, there is a satisfaction that is experienced after a day of cutting firewood, a sense of preparation for the future that has been long forgotten in our immediate “here and now” cellophane-wrapped world. The tasks of gathering, tending, and storing for future use teach profound lessons of moderation, self-control, stewardship, and gratitude. Even the chore of stoking the fire in the middle of the night carries with it a monastic quality of marking time appropriately celebrating the gift of the temporal as a sacrament of the eternal.
The simple life is not merely doing with less. It also involves a stewardship of what we have and what we consume. Whether it is firewood, gardening, canning vegetables, sewing, or re-purposing worn out furniture all can be exercises of simplicity, a classroom to teach gratitude and generosity.