A cheery fire sends warm , flickering light through the window of the wood stove as the family gathers round enjoying the warmth. Yes, this is the magic of a wood stove in the home. The magic quickly fades away when I send the call out, “Time to bring in more wood.” The kids suddenly find reasons to disappear to their chilly rooms where the heat of the fire does not reach. The magic is gone, when, in the mornings I find that I cannot build another fire because the ashes in the stove are too deep. Then I find I cannot shovel out the ashes because the ash bucket is already full. That means pulling on some boots and sneaking out in my bathrobe in the pre-dawn dark to empty the bucket. Those cheery fires do come with a cost.
Recently it was wood cutting day in preparation for the coming winter. When I bring this up to my kids there are groans. They know how much work cutting wood is. There is a lot of sweat and no glamour to hefting up a log that is too big to put your arms around and carrying it across uneven ground to a trailer. Repeating this one hundred times leads to very sore bodies and a dread of the next wood cutting day.
My three older boys are out of the home now and are not available to help anymore (they will grin when they read this). On this wood cutting day my fourth son was at scout camp and couldn’t come along either. I actually saw him grin when he learned he would be missing the family event. This left my two older daughters—one sixteen and one fourteen. So much macho work to do and my only help are girls. Sigh.
I learned that girls can bring with them many surprises. My first surprise came when neither of my daughters complained when I told them we would be going to cut wood on Saturday. Oh, I could see the groan in their eyes, but no negative words escaped their lips. They certainly had other plans for their Saturday and they knew how much work this was going to be. I was moved by this maturity in them, but tried not to show it.
My second surprise came when they didn’t mock me when the first tree cutting went all wrong. I figured the tree would fall a particular direction and cut a notch on that side. When the tree leaned back on my saw, trapping it, I had to cut with my backup saw on the other side. The tree fell into the thorniest, thickest brambles on the mountain. My girls witnessed the whole macho fiasco and said not a word. I was grateful.
We loaded up my truck and came home stopping for drinks at a local convenience store. We were covered in sawdust, dirt, and charcoal from half burned logs, but we were happy. My girls took a macho job, completed it quickly, and added grace and beauty to the task in a way that guys could never do. I think I would rather have my daughters with me for all my macho tasks.