By Beth Howard

May 25, 2015


My father loved a good roaring fire and attended the ones he built with great reverence, as if viewing a cremation. But, after all, he knew his wood. In his 70s, dad bought a gas-powered log splitter and would perch on a stump for hours, loading one log after another, pulling the lever to engage the iron wedge, which descended with a crushing force to split the logs. He recruited his young grandsons to help and they ran back and forth, to stack the wood in orderly rows in the mossy roofed shed in the meadow. My dad split oak, poplar, elm and pine, not discriminating, as many north woods residents did, preferring only long and cleaner burning hard woods for their fires.

Twelve years ago my father died, leaving a lasting legacy of kindling and split logs, which may outlast me. I remember sitting with him in wide comfy armchairs before a blazing fire when he recalled, “That kindling is from the old dock and the birch is from the tree that died behind the house. That heavy oak log is one of the trees they cleared from down beside the road to town.”

Sitting without him, while enjoying the warmth of the bright crackling fire, I miss knowing the intimate stories of who is burning.


Photo "woodpiles among trees" provided by Mark Lehigh, via creative commons license.

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