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Winter warmth

Lead Summary

HCP columnist

The woodshed was full. I felt warm just looking at it, and it had not cost a penny. The cost was rather spent in my husband's hard work, driving the old Jeep up into the woods, felling a standing dead tree, cutting it into foot-long lengths and then piling the logs up in front of the woodshed to be split, sometimes with a splitter on the back of the 1957 ford tractor, other times by hand.

There can be no doubt about it. This had been a long, cold winter. Even the meteorologists had confirmed what both the groundhog and my aging joints had predicted – cold, that was to be followed by more, even colder, cold.

But the woodshed was close to empty. Even though I sat warm by the fire in the cabin, just thinking of our dwindling wood supply sent a chill shiver through my body.

Greg explained why the colder temperatures had led to a depleted wood pile. The automatic damper on the wood stove would open as the temperature inside the cabin dropped, and with the damper opened, the fire would burn hotter, and the wood would burn faster to warm up the cabin. So we had been staying warm throughout the long cold winter, but our wood supply had dwindled faster than expected.

In early January, it had been time. Greg put on his quilted coveralls and climbed back into the old jeep. He headed out into the woods towards a standing dead tree he had kept his eyes on for a while, and with a day's good work, he had the woodshed filled again.

Curiously, the weather warmed that day, and the ground briefly thawed, so Greg had to split the wood by hand, rather than driving the tractor across the soggy ground, and leaving deep ruts on the way to the woodshed.

I thankfully carried armfuls of split wood from the shed into the cabin, and happily kept a stash piled neatly beside the stove.

And as predicted, the weather again turned colder. January turned to February, and as February approached March, I would potter about inside the warm cabin, glancing occasionally out towards the woodshed. I soon realized that somehow the neatly stacked piles of wood had taken wings, and over passing days and weeks seemed to have taken flight, and flown back up into the creek valley sky as smoke.

So once again, this past weekend, Greg put on his quilted coveralls and headed back up into the woods. And as I write, I am again warmed by the simple thought of piles of neatly stacked wood when I look out at the woodshed, that is once again filled with hand split logs. Perhaps the third time is the charm. I cross my fingers and think that perhaps this stash of wood will last us through whatever may be left of the winter.

As darkness falls, it occurs to me to check the long range weather forecast. I scroll through my smartphone. The meteorologists are all calling for continued cold weather, and even a late winter storm, but I must be honest with you here.

What has really kept me warm this long, cold winter, is not the wood in the wood shed, nor the logs burning hot in the fire, it is really the feeling of being wrapped securely in the knowledge that that Greg and I are a team. It is this that warms me through and through.

Even though I have been ever so busy doing lawyerly things these past several months, I have been toasty warm knowing that my husband would not fail to keep the fire burning bright.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at

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