Our current home is over 3000 square feet ( I know, you are trying to picture us living in the tiny cabin come summer…) and because the cost of heating fuel is upwards of four dollars per gallon here in Alaska, we compensate by burning wood in our wood stove as much as possible.
Last week we ran out of firewood and as the man was 900 miles away in the arctic, where they are drilling for more oil we can’t afford to buy, I had two choices. I could stomp seven hundred feet into the woods, through two feet of snow, to get at our sawmill slabs with a chainsaw…or I could turn that little dial on the thermostat up a notch and suffer the consequences when the bill arrived. Since it’s been in the negative temperatures, I chose to play the “girl” role…which I rarely do…and wait out the week for the man to come home and rescue us. It makes him feel manly…I did it for him. I’m a giver like that.
So this morning, as the sun reflected off the white snow and brought the temperature into the thirties (above), we loaded up four boys and three dogs and headed to the property, chainsaw in hand.
We have a giant pile of sawmill slabs left over from last summer when we milled lumber for the cabin. Sounds like easy pickings, until you realize they are frozen together and buried under heaps of snow. Upon arrival, we found several hills, under which we knew were last summers leftovers. So we started to dig.
There is an inexplicable sense of satisfaction in making your own way…in starting with nothing but the earth, and providing your family with the basics of survival. Though we’re not quite there yet, it’s the little things that bring us closer to not only our land, but each other. Silly, I know…what something as simple as gathering fire wood can do for a sense of belonging…a feeling that you are where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you are meant to do.
Once the path was cleared, Dan went to work while the kids and I tossed, stacked, hauled and tossed again, until all of the wood had been transported from the woods to the road, and into the bed of the truck. Once we’d filled the truck half way with slabs for chopping into kindling, we went further back onto the land where we’d left a heap of rounds…logs cut to length, but not split into pieces…and dug our way into the frozen mound while Billy took the boys for laps around the property. Three hours later the truck was full, the kids gloves were dripping, and the dogs had exhausted themselves leaping through the neck deep snow.
Satisfied that we’d made some progress and with the sun threatening to sink soon, we made our way back to the truck and piled in for the ride home where we would settle in for meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and the welcoming heat of a crackling fire.