Cutting Wood

08/26/2014 @ 6:25am

You know the only thing wrong with this country?


OK, that’s perhaps a little all-inclusive.


You know one thing that’s wrong with this country? It’s not fun to cut firewood in the summertime.


You can trust me on this. It’s awful cutting firewood in the summertime.  By the time the woods dry up in the spring, there are hordes of lurking wood ticks, ready to spring onto you and find any bearded area to lodge, and I have a couple. Then you have to deal with the mosquitoes, and come August, fully-grown burdock and cockleburs in every clearing. Put on the Kevlar chaps and hearing protection, and sweat is running down your forehead before the first log is cut. It’s not a real cerebral enterprise, but some decisions have to be made.  


For instance, last summer I used some ginormous logs, which produced huge amounts of firewood for each cut, but the downside was the operation for the double hernia, caused by wrestling the huge slabs onto the log splitter, that cut into work efficiency. I’m aspiring to start with smaller logs this year. 


Even so, it’s a miserable job in the heat. 


But waiting until winter is an even more miserable job and runs the risk of becoming impossible if an early snowstorm puts a couple of feet of snow in the woods.


I know, because I’ve done it both ways and I’ve learned that while I’m never particularly enthralled with the time I spend with a chainsaw, I do love not writing out checks for propane, and I like sipping a cup of coffee during a blizzard without worrying about whether I need to blow snow for the fuel truck OR whether I have enough wood to last until spring. It’s always a little easier when you pay in advance.


Doesn’t this sound a lot like the type of job our government does, or doesn’t do, for us?  Take Social Security, just for example. In 1950, 16 people paid into Social Security for each retiree; today it’s a shade fewer than three. Everyone who passed fourth grade math knows that something needs to be done. We need to pay more, reduce benefits, or raise the retirement age. None of those options is particularly appealing, but then neither is pulling cockleburs off your sweat-soaked T-shirt in a summer grove.  As a grown-up, you learn that you can pay now or later, but you always pay.


I could give a hundred other examples . . . deteriorating highways, immigration issues, outdated regulations, climate change . . . the list goes on and on. I know all our elected officials are over 21, which theoretically makes them adults. So why does is it seem so impossible for them to have as much sense as a beat-up farmer with a wood burner? 


I’m going to wrap this up and send it off, then change clothes, put a sharp chain on the chainsaw, and cut wood until supper. 


Congress just announced they’re taking a five-week recess.


I hope we don’t have an early winter because it could get mighty cold mighty fast.




Copyright 2013 Brent Olson

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