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Wishful Thankin'

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Wishful Thankin'

The wonders of firewood

There’s been a lot of talk about La Nina this year, mostly by those who hope to get something out of it. Well, bring it on! Last year we had an El Nino and I almost had to join a health club! Most of my exercise comes in the form of chores, two of which are the joys of shovelin’ show and splittin’ firewood. Neither of these got me to break much of a sweat last winter and, try as as I might, I just couldn’t seem to burn off enough calories washing dishes or feeding our dog, although I tried.

So I’ll be thankful if we just have a normal winter this time around (say ten feet or more) so that I can get back to my usual trim. It’s either that or drive twenty-five miles one way to act like I’m doin’ chores in a crowded room full of people pretending to be doin’ chores, too.

I hope this is sinking in ‘cause I’m gettin’ tired of all the blank stares I get when I mention splitting wood and shovelin’ show to stay in shape. Like I was part of some living diorama where I’m the old throwback from a different century holding proudly—but stupidly—onto my splitting maul and snow shovel. A North Idaho version of ‘American Gothic.’ Next to me would be some puttybutt bench pressing his utility bills and a snowblower payment book while wearing a big stupid grin and a pair of suspenders to contain himself and his happiness.

“So, if you want to know what the winter’s gonna be like just look at yer neighbor’s wood pile.”

This old piece of wisdom has been with us for so long that its original version probably came out in the form of grunts, snorts, growls and spits with visual aids like mock shivers, arm waving, one-legged dancing and the flashing of one’s hemorrhoids; a very long time.

But this behavior can lead to overindulgence, causing extremely large wood piles, blisters, hernias, deforestation, burned calories and, of course, stumps. Although extra firewood, I have found, comes in handy if the forecast of a hard winter proves to be a lucky guess. If not, then I have a jump on next year’s wood supply!

A wood pile is like a pantry; a stash or cache of BTUs and it also represents exercise. Lots of exercise. If you’re an idiot like I am and have a forest to take care of in your spare time, you drop trees as far away as possible from the woodshed, limb ‘em and drag the slash some ridiculous distance with a rope, buck up the log, then coerce all the rounds by any means necessary until they’re resting comfortably next to the chopping block. After that, it’s easy!

When I welded stoves for a livin’ we used an old saying: “He who splits his own wood warms himself twice.” Well, he who grows his own firewood sweats, bleeds, aches, rips, tears, screams and curses. And that’s just gettin’ the chainsaw running. After that the warmth kicks in. By the time you get the slash burned, there’s absolutely no shortage of warmth.

It’s best to cut firewood when you feel like it. This almost never happens and you’d best be willing to compromise with those feelings. Hypnotism works for me. All I need do is get out a blank piece of paper, sharpen a pencil and stare at that paper ‘til everything glazes over and pretty soon I can find myself out in the shop shakin’ hands with my chainsaw and looking for gloves with fingertips still present (which also seldom happens).

It’s almost November again if it ain’t already. (Huh?)

Time to give thanks for all your joys and happinesses... or whatever.

Here’s a portion of my list:

  • The recession is over (even though the depression is still here).
  • Fire season came and went uneventfully.
  • I have so much to do, I literally can’t think of anything else (and consequently get into trouble).
  • I don’t have to mow anything for at least six months.
  • My firewood is all in and split.
  • I still have ten fingers and ten toes (my calculators are still intact).
  • Although it repeatedly made me wonder, September turned out to be a good time to peel my roof back and play chicken with Mother Nature and her ability to ruin sheet rock and insulation in sudden, June-like cloudbursts.
  • Doppler Radar and NOAA’s website.
  • Tarps.
  • I still haven’t fallen off my roof, even though I repeatedly give myself plenty of chances.
  • My new roof is paid for.
  • So was the old one.
  • I still love my new Colorado.
  • I have more friends than I can possibly offend.
  • Dish Network and my DVR make it possible to avoid political fib-fests, slander/bashing and controversial testimonials that the candidates all seem to approve of. Simply with the push of a button I can render null and void the money they spend on my behalf, keeping me from throwing my shoes at the TV.

And I saved the best for last...

  • I can still make my mom giggle.

I hope that you and yourn have no trouble making long lists of your own. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Scott Clawson Scott Clawson No, he's not the electrician, he's the OTHER Scott Clawson, who's a quality builder when he's not busy busting a gut while writing his humor column for the first issue of each month, or drawing his Acres n' Pains cartoons.

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humor, Thanksgiving, firewood

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