Getting Ready For Winter (Yup)

It’s that time of year, wood piles in preparation for the coming winter are common sights here in Vermont and the north country. I am a little too old to cut my own anymore so I have my firewood delivered. I like to stay a year ahead and make sure my wood is good and dry. I had 5 cords of hardwood, mostly maple, ash, and cherry delivered this July. Now, the chore of stacking this wood is on my to-do list. I have about 5 cords stacked from last year that will be my winter’s fuel this year. Hopefully, by the end of the coming winter I will not be getting into the wood delivered this year. It is a common expectation for Vermonters to survery their woodpiles in February and wonder, “Do I have enough to get throught the rest of the winter?” I like to have enough. It’s no fun to be out of wood and some more winter weather still ahead.

Some of the firewood I bought needs to be split again, some chunks are too big for the size I like them to be, and besides, I love splitting wood. My job as soon as I was old enough to manage handling an ax was to split firewood for our summer farm in Washington, Vermont. My dad taught me how to split wood with an ax (no mauls in those days) and the idea was to learn to read the grain of the wood, pay attention to the knots, and learn how to split the wood using your wrists and not your back to power throught the wood. A little wrinkle of your wrists as the ax struck the wood did most of the work along with a good ax. It would get to be very rhythmic work, and for me, thinking time. We always had a little elm in the woodshed at the farm and my dad had me learn how miserable some wood, like elm, can be to split. I admit to using a hammer and some gluts (steel wedges) on some of the nasty pieces.

Our garden has been productive this year, a little more rain would have been nice, but the weather is what it is. We have been busy canning, making raspberry jam and bread and butter pickles. Dilly bean pickles will be next on our canning table.

I have 32 high bush blueberry bushes and they have also been productive but the berries are a little small in size. I am blaming the shortage of rain when needed on the small size of the berries. Instead of being the size of the end of my thumb, this year the blueberries are more the size of wild blueberries, kind of dinky and a lot of work to pick a pail. Some years everything works and some years, it doesn’t.

I will be busy over the next few months with other “getting ready for winter” chores. I like to button up the house, eliminate any sources of drafts, and add more insulation where needed. My home was built in 1830 so there are always spots that need some attention every year getting ready for winter. The late summer and fall are nice weather to be outside and working. I am not very good in the high heat and humidity of the summer, I’ll take the fall any day over those hot and humid days of the summer.

I’ll have more to share with this work of getting ready for winter. This is where I am at right now. Eventually, I will be putting the garden to bed for the winter, mulching and feeding the soil so next year’s garden will get off to a good start. This fall work is some of my most favorite work to do. I admit to being an “old Vermonter” and a Scotsman as well. Most of my perspective on life and living comes from both.

Take care and it is a good time to start “getting ready.”

Published by Ed Pirie

I am a Vermonter, been one all my life. That just about tells you all you need to know. I am not much of a follower and like to do my own thinking. I value my family and a quiet existence in a very rural part of Vermont. There is a lot in the world I do not understand. My writing is my attempt to wrap my head around much that is swirling around me. Some time ago gasoline pumps changed to the way they look now. I had stopped to fill my Jeep and I could not get the gas to pump to save my life. I went inside and complained to the attendant. She knew me and said, "Ed, the whole world is changing and if you don't figure out the changes you are going to fall off the earth as it spins around." Well, I am not always successful figuring out the changes, but my writing is my way of working through some of them. I hope you enjoy.

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