As I sip my mug of after-lunch coffee I find myself pondering the signs of the seasons, and fall in particular.
There are many, of course, such as the turning of the maple leaves from green to scarlet, the flocking of blackbirds or even the unmistakable crunch of frosted grass under your chore boots in the morning. Also where one lives would affect this I tend to think. For those who are in the Southern states perhaps you`re seasonal signs are less crispy underfoot?
For we yodeling goatherders who call the mountains of north central Pennsylvania home one of the most reliable harbingers of fall is the need to fill the wood room. Over the past few weeks as October got nudged aside by November our evening temperatures have fallen steadily. Waking up to twenty-six degrees will surely frost the Herefords nose! (Well it would if he didn`t keep it so wet and slippery all the time with his cow tongue!)
In the summer of 2008 we purchased an outdoor wood burning stove to replace the costly propane we had heated with since we moved up on this here hill. Of course along with the new stove and the considerable amount of savings we stuffed into our wallets came the work associated with burning wood for heat. I`ll be frank and admit cutting wood isn`t my favorite task in the world. I would much rather linger UNDER the shade tree with a spicy romance novel then spend all day chopping the tree down. But I also like to be warm, as Mr. Yodeling likes to remind us girls when we pull sour faces at the mention of wood cutting, so I guess the chainsaw wins.
We try to keep a good amount cut and drying so that when Jack Frost arrives to sprinkle his crystals on the goats backs we`re ready. This year is no exception and so Tuesday when Mr. Yodeling returned from his tree stand empty handed (Stiff upper lip honey!) we decided he had shivered enough and set into filling our wood room.
As I sip it comes to me….have you ever noticed how hotties and coldies always seem to marry the opposite? I`m a hottie *Winks* and Mr. Yodeling is a coldie. I sleep all year round with nothing save a sheet usually and he`s bundled up like Yukon Cornelius Rudolph’s gold seeking buddy when he comes to bed. I wonder if you reader`s have a hottie/coldie opposite mate too?
As we began to fill the cab of the Chevy for the short trip from the wood piles to the rear of our house I discovered more signs of the Earth preparing for winter just as we were. A large group of ladybugs had gathered together in the white birch pile, getting as close as they could get to each other to ride out the long cold days ahead.
Even though my daughter was at school and missed all the fun we did have lots of help from the canine corps! Trinity seems to find hauling wood an especially good way to work on that helpfulness merit badge she covets, and Poe stood vigil on the wood pile itself in case we may happen to unearth a squid. (You know Poe and her SQ word obsession!)
Tinker, well, he helped by working the weeds for rabbits and thusly keeping our minds sharp by calling for him every five minutes lest he wander off. So yeah, lots of help from the pooches made the work go faster.
One chunk of red oak caught my eye as we were hauling and calling beagles and I just had to snap a picture of it to share. Looking at this it reminded me of a girl’s hair that had been crimped. Neither I nor Mr. Yodeling can explain why the wood grew this way but it was so unique and pretty I just had to show it to you. And no, I was NOT lollygagging or trying to make a certain other wood hauling person do all the work despite what that other wood hauling person may have been thinking! *Looks around* Okay, maybe I was but that`s our little secret!
So for now we`re stocked up for a couple of weeks and I can enjoy the smell of wood smoke once more. It`s an aroma that I associate strongly with shortening days and trips to my mother-in-laws house when Mr. Yodeling and I were a-courting way back when.
Isn`t it funny how the signs of the seasons come in so many different forms?