Wood Woes

The Mud Month:tastefully sandwiched between the Snow and the Dust Month

Not really woes, just the fact that this time of year, everything has to be done FIRST!

I’m thankful to have already moved nine of my trucks-ful of wood from where it was dumped to the stacks out the back door. On the other hand, it is a sorry lot of wood this year, consisting of butts and crotches (which set off a cascade of wisecracks when I mentioned this at a dinner party while Ann was out of town.)

Because my source (Big Load Firewood, Bland County) couldn’t get to the woods to cut for months because of the snows, he bought mill ends–the flanged base of trees (butts) and the curvy forks of the trunk and of branches (crotches) that are all hard to split, even with a power splitter. Not only that, but almost every piece looks like it was once submerged in mud, obviously dozed into a pile, then pulled out for “firewood sales”. It will burn, but it won’t be purty. And my stacks don’t do for my male ego what they outta.

Meanwhile, the fellas who cleaned the gutters two weeks ago also dropped a 15 inch dbh tulip poplar for me, a tree on the east side of the house (blocks morning sun, contributes to mildew on siding) that, had I cut it alone, inevitably would have been lodged across the road at the exact time a caravan of cars would have needed urgently to get by. So the guys dropped it, I’ve been limbing and bucking it up into stove length, loading it into the truck, and stacking it at the edge of “Yucca Flats” so Ann can mow there.

I am pleased to say that both mowers started, and I am sad to say the both mowers started. We’ll need both to get on top of that deep green first rush of growth from the first absorption of stored soil nutrients waiting to warm and be used by  grass plants anxious to find sun before the competition.

But we are finally past the mud month, a sample of same seen in the photo above.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Absolutely loved the image. Beautiful.

    In a setting like that inspiration must sit permanently on the shoulder like a bird that’s inspired to sing all day.