2017-11-15 / Here's the Scoop

Under the weather

You don’t look so good,” were the words of a friend who stopped by my office last week.

I didn’t realize it was that obvious, but I felt even worse than my appearance. Knock wood, but I don’t get sick that often. And, of all the possible maladies out there, a stomach virus is pretty low on the list — somewhere between a stubborn splinter and the flu. Still, it’s not that fun.

Every time I get an ailment like this, while watching my most recent meal make the reverse trip out of my mouth and into the toilet (if I’m lucky) I always have the same thought: “Wow, I never fully appreciate all the times when I’m feeling well.” This thought is quickly followed by: “Darn, I paid good money for that food.”

A choice, not a command

As much as I enjoy some good “couch time,” I prefer this non-activity when it’s a voluntary non-effort. Being forced to the couch by a stomach bug just doesn’t bring the same type of relaxation/satisfaction.

Over the years, my wife has developed a foolproof system for determining the extent of my illness. When she asks if I’d like something to eat and I say, “No thanks,” she knows I’m not kidding around.

Just to be sure, she’ll sometimes follow up that initial question with, “Not even chocolate?”

A negative response to the chocolate offer places me firmly in the “He really is sick” category.

I noted above that lazy time on the couch is most enjoyable when it comes after a period of notable productivity — like moving rocks, house painting or disposing of small, woodland creatures that cat has piled on the porch.

As it turns out, I’d rather be performing just about any of those tasks instead of tossing and turning on the couch, making sure the garbage can-turned-vomit collector is within arm’s reach.

For instance, I had really been looking forward to last weekend as a period of Firewood Enhancement. With a decent supply left from last season; I had planned to use a specialized technique of harvesting Ready To Burn (RTB) wood to fill out the shed.

In case you’re wondering, the RTB method is something I’ve pretty much perfected over the years — I’ve even applied for a patent. Basically, you search out downed or standing dead trees that no self-respecting wood-burner would ever look at twice and you greedily chop these up into chunks that can go directly from Wagon to Fireplace. It’s the wood-burning version of Farm to Table, that’s so hot right now.

Let’s be practical

Sure, it’s best to give these pre-seasoned pieces a bit of air-drying time, but I don’t always have that luxury. The theory that one should be cutting wood in the fall for “next season” is, to me, a nice fantasy. Sure, each year I proclaim, “I’m going to get my wood cut early this season.” And then, life happens.

It seems that other projects always take priority over firewood processing. This leads to my annual Autumn Panic, as it’s come to be known around our house. I prefer to think of it as Cold Weather Motivation. Recently, my mind has been drifting back to those summer evenings when I gleefully raided the woodshed to fuel the fire pit and joked, “I’m sure I’ll regret not having this wood in January” — February, March and April, too. And the early part of May — perhaps a bit of June, as well.

I guess I could always break down and buy firewood, but the thought of that burns me. Now that my stomach is no longer feeling like a bowling ball, I’m hoping there will be enough favorable weather days left for me to strike out and gather the spare wood needed to help us roll through a comfortable winter on the couch in front of the fireplace — without the garbage can nearby. — Brian Sweeney

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