We teach our kids things. Important things, little things. Things we don’t even realize. My dad wasn’t thinking it was life lesson time whenever we would head out to do wood. I’m pretty sure he was thinking he had access to extra hands and tossing us in the ski-doo caboose to trek back into the hardwoods gave mom a break.
I learned a lot from those days. I learned being outside on a shiny winter day rejuvenates and replenishes. I learned the knock of dry wood, the calibre of different trees for burning, and the art of doing kindling. I learned that doing beats watching and a day spent outside earns you a nap in front of the fireplace when you get home.
Today we headed to the farm under the guise of helping Memere but really wanting to be outside, doing stuff. We ended up piling, splitting, and stacking wood to make things easier for Memere as she heats with a wood stove. At one point I was on the stoop, splitting kindling into matchsticks. My husband was in the woodshed splitting all the wood that wouldn’t fit in the stove. The kids were playing on the snow mound at the end of the drive near the barn. I stood still for a moment, and it was like pressing play on a soundtrack from 35 years ago.
Later my older sister and I watched my husband put a wedge in a particularly big block for splitting. I used some choice words to describe when a piece of wood won’t surrender to being split by an axe alone. She looked at me and smiled. “Kind of brings Dad back into the picture to hear you talk like that,” she said. As a chip off the old block I believe in the power of a well timed, purely expressed swear word when something won’t start, split, turn over, or float. I think that was a lesson Dad did intend to teach us.