The Firewood Detail

Flatted It

You start off with a pretty good idea of what should happen, but of course, there are no guarantees. Today it was one strange thing after another. Nothing catastrophic, just not quite what I had in mind.

Every summer I have a long list of chores that I have to do before winter. Getting firewood is a big one. As a matter of fact, it’s THE big one. It’s hard physical work, and it takes many long hours over the course of several days to go out on the woodcutting road and cut down trees, saw them into pieces small enough to either carry or drag to the truck, haul them home, throw the whole mess on the ground, and split and stack it. The sooner the better, too, because the wood needs time to dry before it will burn, and that takes several months.

Today was the day to get going on this firewood project. I rounded up the saw and the gas mix, the axe, the shovel (in case I got the truck stuck) and the come-a-long. I threw it all in the truck and headed out onto the woodcutting road. The woodcutting road is a logging road about a mile from my home. There are areas set aside for people who are getting firewood for their own personal use.

Near the turnoff to the woodcutting area at 7.5 mile, I saw a new trail in, and I figured I’d see what was down there. It started off pretty dry and clear, but it turned into a brushy gap winding through the trees in no time. I needed to find a spot to turn around, and nothing looked very promising. I tried backing into a little clearing near some decent-looking spruce trees, but I lost traction and almost got stuck sideways to the trail. After I got myself back square with the trail, I figured the best option was to back out the way I’d just come in. This meant having to drive rather assertively in reverse and try not to hit any trees or wander off the barely-there trail. Going backward, I ran over some big stuff hidden in the brush, stumps or something, and when I got out to the main woodcutting road, I noticed a warning light I’d never seen before lit up on my dashboard.

Ignoring the warning light, I drove on down to the turnoff at 7.5 mile, and followed it down, down into the woodcutting area. The road isn’t much of a road. It’s washed out and rutted for long stretches, and you have to hug one side and then the other to keep from sliding into one of the big ruts. I came to another side trail which went toward a nice stand of birch. I followed it up a hill and then along a level section, maybe about a quarter mile. There was a turnaround spot.

I got out to see if the trees would be worth cutting, and I heard a hissing sound coming from my right front tire. Damn! There was a stick poking out through a hole in the tire. Some stick! Rather than deal with changing the tire there in the woods where who knows what might go wrong and leave me stranded out there, I drove home on the leaking, hissing tire as fast as I could. Good thing I didn’t have far to go; I made it home while there was still air in the tire.

So my first day getting firewood this summer was a bust. I didn’t even run the saw. I hope I find a groove with it the next time, and actually make some progress, but it’s hard when so many things can go wrong. This experience was remarkably similar to teaching school, except that I didn’t have to tell anyone else what to do, and the evaluation was immediate and obvious. Considering all the variables involved in working with large groups of kids, we should be amazed if things ever go according to plan.

Firewood Detail

Fortunately I do have some firewood left over from last year, but I still need a good half-dozen truckloads.

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On Being and Becoming

The impulse behind this blog has its roots in my growing conviction that we pay too much attention to what we’re becoming and not enough to simply being. I believe that if we expect to find our way past horizons that seem to be drawing ever nearer, we’d best start looking at ourselves and one another differently. Business goes on as usual despite dire warnings of environmental or economic (or both!) collapse. People live like there’s no tomorrow, which of course there really isn’t, but we also live like there’s no today, ignoring the wonder of what we are and have always been.

Wet With Rain is a phrase from Van Morrison’s, In The Garden. In it, he repeats the refrain,

no guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father and the
Son and the Holy Ghost
In the garden, wet with rain

Morrison recognizes that realizing Truth doesn’t depend on special doctrines, methods, or hero figures. He’s making what amounts to a spiritual declaration of independence. As a teacher now going on 30 years in the classroom, I’m with him all the way on this. Self-determination and the power of spontaneous creativity are more powerful than any orthodoxy to promote learning.

Each year my colleagues and I are asked to submit a copy of our educational philosophies to our principal as a part of our formal evaluation process. This isn’t a litmus test of any kind; the principals use them as a frame for their classroom observations. Last September my principal said that our philosophy statements could be anywhere from six words to a page in length. Mine had always been overly wordy, I thought, and I was curious to see if I could boil it down to the minimum of six words. I came up with something that works pretty well for me: Never could I have planned this.

So it is with this blog. To me, the phrase, “wet with rain” suggests an openness to experience that invites us to surrender our preconceptions about whatever we think should be happening and engage moment-by-moment with things as they are. The tumblr, On Being, shared a quote from Richard Rohr’s Everything Belongs: “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”

Lao Tzu expressed this same idea most elegantly almost 2500 years ago, “The way to do is to be.”

The tension between being and becoming has been a problem for ages, it seems. It’s a human problem, one that I plan to explore here on this blog.

Van Morrison:

Begin Here

This is my new blog. The old one got hacked. No biggie. I’ll start over.