Can you hear that? It’s autumn.
You may think I’m referring to the satisfying crunch of crisp leaves underfoot, or the crackle and hiss of the season’s first fires. And whilst these auditory delights are indeed the sound of the colourful season, it’s not these I refer to.
Rather, the sound of autumn for me is far less romanticised. It’s the roar of a saw bench, the whizz and whir of the chainsaw, the thunk of wood in the trailer and the comforting drone of footy on the car radio.
For the men of my family (and it seems the man I have married), wood chopping, collecting, carting, stacking and burning is pretty much a religion. My nan was known to say that ‘he who cuts his own wood, warms himself twice’ and there’s a great of warming that goes on in our family. The menfolk have been known to fight over chopping kindling and have wood stacks so grand they are set for the next few years depending on how ‘green’ the wood is. It’s a science that mystifies me.
Until this week when I actually did through a few logs into the back of the trailer, my last wood carting trip was probably circa 1993 and even then I thought the best part of the trip was smoko and reading my book while waiting for dad and the boys to get the job done. I think that trip may just be preserved for all eternity on VHS. Dad had instructed my brothers to put some wood in the trailer. Apparently it was covered in ants and they were whinging that they couldn’t carry it long enough to get it in the trailer without being attacked. I scoffed and told them to get over it, threw on some gloves and went to show them how it was done. I lasted about 10 seconds before throwing the wood, pelting the gloves and retreating to the car and my book.
As much as I sometimes wish that I was a bit more practical, a bit more ‘hands on’ and interested in things like wood carting, I’m just not. I still hide inside having smoko and reading my book (these days under the guise of ‘cleaning’ ssshhh!) but I am pretty good at burning the wood. I learnt from dad who was quite the master. His wood heater at home has a black text mark which he discovered after rigorous testing to be the perfect position of air flow needed for optimal heat, fuel economy and also keeping the glass door clean. He would set and light the fire and then asking someone to keep an eye on it and turn the fan on when it got going. If I happened to be in charge, the next exchange would be ‘Hannah, haven’t you put the fan on that yet? Can’t you smell the paint burning?’ I couldn’t because I’d been sidetracked, probably by a book. I’m not sure there’s any paint left to burn and I’m glad that my heater doesn’t have a fan to remember to turn on.
Another winter, another season of wood burning. And for all my apparent lack of interest in the endeavour, I’ve found that this year, wood has worked its way into my subconscious. I like the sound of footy on the wireless, the process and the order of stacking and burning. And I like remembering my dear dad and the countless hours “we” spent carting wood in my childhood. Stay warm everyone!