News from Vermont #259 - Wheelbarrows and Warmth
March 22nd, 2012
We've had a good winter so far burning wood here at the Morse residence. Betsy and I spend some of our best moments out in the summer woods with our two Black Labs cutting, splitting and hauling wood. It's our "budget plan" you know, we save the expense of a fitness center, save a per gallon price for oil, and get warm twice; as my old buddy Gerald Pease used to say, "once, b'gory, when y'cut it and then agin when y'burn it". We have a woodshed a short distance away from our house where we stack the chunks to dry. We tried putting it directly in our basement two different years but on year one, our living room floor boards swelled and heaved because of all the moisture coming off the drying wood. On year two, the boards heaved again, plus we got carpenter ants!
Some folks might say our biggest challenge is having to transport wood from the shed to our basement but I say "pshaw" to that...it's all part of the same 'budget plan'". I will admit to a bit of fumbling during the transporting. We've tried a kids' plastic sled and a little red wagon...we've even thrown it chunk by chunk, bucket-brigade style, that is until the concussion and hospital visit but that's another story. We've never found the perfect system except for one, the wheelbarrow. Wheelbarrows are the world's most wonderful invention!
Webster's definition, a "one-wheeled vehicle for carrying small loads", is the best he could do but doesn't do justice to the job. Wheelbarrows are indeed "one-wheeled" even though there have been dozens of Rube Goldbergesque and extremely flawed attempts at adding a second wheel, a motor, or the most ludicrous thing of all (and coming out of Vermont, no less)...changing the scoop-shaped body to a square box, adding two flimsy bicycle wheels and calling it a "garden cart". My dear folks...you don't fool with the wheelbarrow any more than you fool nature! It's made for the human body, the perfect marriage between man and machine.
I've known that for years but Betsy was a slow study. I grew up with a wheelbarrow handling sloppy cow manure and cement over long plank runways. Yes when it comes to those situations, you have to develop a bit of skill and that takes some practice. A couple spills from the planks down into the "cushion" below, though, y'learn fast. For years while I would wheel huge loads of wood to the basement, Betsy'd match my effort by cradling a few chunks to her breast and making multiple trips to my one. At one point this winter, however, from the tracks I saw, I suddenly realized that she had been using the wheelbarrow. I didn't mention it and she didn't either until one evening she came in bursting with wisdom..."That wheelbarrow is elegantly simple and it's really, you know, a metaphor for life!". She went on..."Like life, it needs balance, forward movement, and sensible loading.". My wife was psyched with her discovery!
The warm days of spring have arrived, reducing our wheelbarrow trips to the basement. We look forward to a summer full of fun with the dogs in the woods and then beyond, to next winter in our toasty house. We won't be buying oil as long as our health holds up. As my "philosopher" wife points out, the wheelbarrow makes it "elegantly simple". I knew that all along but just hadn't put the words to it. Mainly, I love to handle wood the easiest way possible and t'get warm twice "once, b'gory, when I cut it and then agin when I burn it".
I sure wish sugarin' could be as easy and simple as the wheelbarrow is! At the beginning of our season, we hoped that the "neurotic" weather of late might translate to a good sugarin' (because as I've said before, Sugarin' thrives on neurotic weather). What we failed to plan on though was "too warm" being part of the weather neurosis! Weather that's too darned warm has shut down our sugar season and is "fattening" maple buds as I write; buds are bad for sugarin'. Looks like we've come up short on our syrup supply folks so you might want to consider ordering early this year. Who knows where the price might go but right now it's still the same as last year. Sorry to bring the news but, of course, for everyone but Vermont Maple Sugarmakers, this summer-like weather is great!
Enjoy it while it lasts,