We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
My son Nicholas is now in his early teens. He can swing a pretty mean axe, piling up the wood with steady progress. I remember well when multiple strikes of his little axe were as so many raindrops on a window. As years passed by we kept setting up a chopping station for him at a safe distance from mine. Little talk, much swinging, even if not much splitting. Then the tell-tale sound—a sort of hollow echo—of a strike that has hit home. This followed by the ripping sound of a strike that has broken through. I will never forget his looking over to see if I had heard that magical sound. Of course I had. I would not take that away from him. I would not take it away from us.
So many of the things I spend my time doing fit the 'splitting wood' category. Upon seeing my hand spun yarn or handwoven towels, sometimes people say, 'Ya know, you can buy that stuff at Walmart.' I know I can. That's not the point.
Yes, I'm 'wasting' my PhD on manual labor. And homeschooling. And growing my own food. I get dirty. I work my aging body hard. My bank account may not be better for it, but I am better for it. And my family is better for it. And maybe humanity is better for it, too.
I learned to split wood from trees cut on my own property (not extensive) as a 25-year-old ex-city boy. Unfortunately, I had cut down mostly elm trees that were unhealthy and near the house that first year. It really broke my spirit splitting that, and I wondered where, in the coming winters, I would find the strength without injuring my neck from the repeated jars. (I still have a bad neck, 30 years later.) It may have even been two humiliating years, scouring Mother Earth News and Yankee magazines hoping to find a better maul. I'd heard that frozen wood splits more easily, and so waited until January in hopes that the advantage would be enough to get by, and not shame the family line.
But that year was birch and ash, which split easily and cleanly with a good strike. Maple and oak weren't bad, either. I understand the part where that sound of a clean split can be tonic to a boy coming of age, standing next to his father and all that. But hearing that satisfying sound, after my discouragement and humiliation, in the face of not being able to afford to buy other, well...
I think it meant more to me than it did to them.
And oh, don't split thick elm by hand. Rent a splitter, or just hack off edges of it, or let it be and just dry it longer so it burns in the stove. But don't ever go at the miserable, twisty stuff without a plan.
Assistant VIllage Idiot
Frozen wood does split more easily or, perhaps more accurately, frozen wood splits with less difficulty.
I gave up hand-splitting a few years back because old joints complain loudly in cold weather. But I'll never forget that hollow "pop" when you hit a sweet spot. Even the joy of popping logs hydraulically has been usurped by Leatherness, who attacks each round I feed her with a vengeance that I wonder about sometimes. I stack.
good grief, the guy made his point when he said...that he likes to split wood. His professor lounge mates who said he'd be better off buying the wood already split would no doubt tell him, if they felt him overweight, that he should spend time at the gym. Too bad you cant outsource fitness. Spend time at the stairmaster producing nothing but sweat but don't spend your time with your son splitting wood. Morons...thy names are........There was a myth about someone spending their life pushing a large rock up a hill, only to have it roll down again...that fellow should have split wood instead.
the entire paragraph is a strawman (that money is the standard of measuring the value of human activities). knocking this down is what college freshmen do in boozy late night bull sessions.
the author is a dude (a "professional" because, its not like he's got to bust up pieces of wood, just so we all know) who likes physical labor, BFD. it sounds like he's trying to justify a preference, but to whom? and why? why would any stable adult give a rat's ass what coworkers think about his hobby? is he that insecure that he needs to explain why he lumberjacks around?
Commander McBragg once wrote of darts thudding into tightly compacted Shlubsbury straw, and the pleasant surprise of robin hooding one dart into another, all within the warm confines of a congenial pub surrounded by fine brown pints of india ale and the hearty congratulations of manly companions, ... holy mackerel, can that guy overwrite an essay???