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Vivaldi and wood

Common ground
Bill Kight

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is playing in the background. For some reason I need the stimulation of good music while celebrating the changing of the seasons. It’s a good day to be alive waiting for the woodman to arrive while I write.

Years ago we used to go out into the forest and cut our own wood, but those days are past with my back out of whack more often than not. We have to have wood at our house to keep the downstairs warm in the winter.

Slabs and blocks come from one of the few local sawmills still operating. A truck with two and a half cords backs up in front of the garage and dumps the load for me to stack with, of course, my back brace firmly in place.

There’s something therapeutic about stacking wood. The ancient ritual must be in my blood to find it rewarding rather than a chore.

The preciseness of placing each piece where it belongs fitting well enough to stand taller than a man without falling is an art.

One stack goes against the garage and another under the deck out of the weather, using the old trusty wheelbarrow. For some reason its small tire is always in need of air. That means finding where the hand pump hid itself.

All this takes time, measured in how slow and deliberate one paces the effort. You should never be rushed while stacking wood. Helping the season change from fall to winter is ceremonial and I am the priest, the magician who makes each movement count.

Talking to Creator as I work helps me connect with the universe and my purpose in life of providing for my family. I am the tender of the eternal flame, the fire-keeper.

Fire, like water, is a gift from Creator. As modern, sophisticated humans who adjust our comfort with the flick of a switch, we tend to forget this important fact.

Ever try starting a fire by striking two pieces of flint together, or swirling one stick against another until a spark ignites? Me neither. That’s why we have matches.

Every house I can remember having lived in here in the West as an adult has had either a woodstove or a fireplace.

While assuming the position to light the woodstove, I often feel the presence of the Ancestors looking over my shoulder, making sure their effort at passing on good survival genes was not wasted.

That’s a lot of pressure on a born klutz like me. But a guy has got to be able to start a fire, or what good are you? I could swear there are times those long-gone ornery relatives blow out the match just to irritate me.

There is also a primal fear in the back of my mind remembering “To Build A Fire” by Jack London. You never know when your life depends on being able to start a fire.

Got to go. I hear the woodman’s old truck backing down the drive.

With over 30 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week. Bill’s columns are being shifted to run every other Saturday.


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