Saturday, November 22, 2008

Burn Down the Mission

Well, it’s wood time again. A whole truckload of it coming in. And it just so happens that I feel lousy. Lousier than usual. That little attack I had yesterday has settled into my legs, so that my legs themselves feel rather like wood. Like two boards with no hinges at the knees or hips. Even Lego characters walk better.

I’m trying to figure this out, financial-wise . . . if we buy a $250 cord of wood, add in the sweat and pain required to move it to the back of the yard (as I’ve mentioned before, everything must go to the back of the yard, be it wood, dirt, gravel, or rocks), then add also the effort required to chop the wood into burnable sticks . . . how much do we end up saving on heating gas?

I suppose this could be answered easily enough if I had any idea what we spend on the heating bill. But I don’t.

It will have, therefore, to remain a matter of mystery and faith.

Ah, but what price can you put on the warm and fuzzy feeling of pine and cedar crackling in the fireplace, on the creation of heat by ones own hands, the dancing flames casting flickering shadows on the walls, the smoke which leaks out into the air and stuffs up your nostrils so badly that you end up addicted to Afrin? What price for the heat which rises volcanically to the top floor, where I work, so that I have to strip off my outer clothing as if it were mid afternoon in August, or the soot than cannot be cleansed from the hands, the pitch that causes ones fingers to stick together.

What price can you put on the challenge of igniting chunks of wood, damp from being in the back of the yard, which stubbornly refuse to burn, despite every effort at encouragement short of using a flame thrower? What price can you put on a return to simplicity, to bygone ways and customs, to living as the pioneers lived. Or the cave men?

You cannot turn off a fire, by the way. You cannot turn it up, you cannot turn it down. It is simply there. It generates whatever heat it will—be that little, some, or extreme to the point of seeming downright dangerous. Once the match is lit, the rest is left to the whim of the flames.

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