Our two story home had no central heating. The only source of heat came from a single wood stove in the living room. During the drizzly winter months few things were cozier than standing in front of the stove to warm your backside. Sunday afternoons, after church meetings, it wasn’t uncommon to find kids hovering around the stove to claim some of the heat. So cheap (or even better, free) wood was always in demand.
Dad worked hard to keep us warm. Sometimes he could get trash pallets from the nickel plant that he hauled home in a borrowed truck. The looming pallet stacks filled the front yard. They must have been an eye sore to my mom the way they took up the entire yard. But they were perfect for Craig and me to crawl in between, our own ginormous forts towering up to the trees. The stacks never lasted long so we had to take full advantage while we could. With a frenzied whir of the chainsaw, Dad transformed the pallets into a massive woodpile, stacked neatly against the side of the house.
Some Saturdays I’d watch with envy as Dad hauled my brothers out of bed to cut firewood. He would lace up his work boots, his red stocking cap pulled over his bald head. The promises of adventure. Oh how I hated to be left out. I don’t know if I thought Dad would let me use the chainsaw. Or if I thought I could toss logs around with my brothers. But I couldn’t understand their reluctance to leave their warm beds and smelly boy pillows to go cut wood with Dad. I figured they must be faking, pretending to prefer bed because it wasn’t cool to want to cut wood.
So I was beyond thrilled when Dad agreed to let Craig and I join a woodcutting adventure one Saturday morning.
We turned off the highway onto a mountain road that wound its way through evergreen trees. Dad rolled the truck to a stop in a clearing, and the older boys pulled on their work gloves. Craig and I stood, bundled against the mist, at the back of the truck. Waiting. My stomach rumbled. We had no snacks, and we wouldn’t eat breakfast until we got home.
As the chainsaw roared to life, Craig eyed the truck. He threw a leg over the back and climbed in. I needed no further encouragement and scrambled in behind him. Dad grumbled a little about our lack of help, but we didn’t let that dampen our spirits. We leaped about the back of the pickup until the wood claimed our play space. Then we dodged in and out of trees and climbed stacks of freshly cut logs. Mountain air clung to our skin and clothes. This was adventure.
At last Dad declared the truck full and the work done. We climbed into the cab and rumbled our way off the mountain. When we got home, kids were sprawled around the living room watching Looney Tunes, and the warm smell of waffles greeted us. Craig and I eagerly grabbed plates. All of that running around, not helping Dad had really worked up our appetites.