I left the cabin for the first time since arriving on Sunday. Yup, I made it all the way to the shed to fetch wood. Aaron got home a little early from work today, so it wasn't dark yet. I handed Walker over; threw on boots, hat, gloves, and coat; and pranced outside. The door which leads to the shed has a ramp instead of stairs, we were told it was so the previous owners could wheelbarrow loads of wood right into the house. We also were told, all that wood wasn't enough to get the place warm. I think the most recent owner did some weatherizing, because we don't need wheelbarrows of wood, even though it was windy and down to 9 degrees the other night. And it's a good thing, too, since we don't have a wheelbarrow. I'm hauling wood with a canvas strip affixed with two leather handles.
The snow, powdery and wind blown, looks like sand:
As the light first started fading, it seemed the snow had absorbed it, everything else was receding while the snow glowed bone white. The upper sky was dark blue, with a few large stars, but down below, behind the black branches of the trees, the sky was a pink so delicate it was just shy of white. As the darkness settled in, the snow turned silver, except where the yellow light from our propane lanterns turned it gold. I went back and forth from the shed to the house thinking of my grandfather who died three-and-a-half years ago. Although both my grandparents and my parents heated with wood stoves, it is my grandfather I think of hauling wood. In part this is because I spent more time helping him with wood chores than I did my father. But also, because, micromanager that he was, he was there with me most of the time.
In particular, I remember his hands, in their worn, but stiff, gray work gloves, handling the wood in his fumbley, careful way. The older he got, the fumblier, but never clumsy. We would load his red wheelbarrow and transfer wood from where we had just been sawing it up to the wood pile or from the wood pile to the iron storage hoop on the front porch. And I think of him as I am learning the care and feeding of our stove. The white gravel that surrounded my grandparents stove would crunch when he went down on one knee to tend to the fire. After opening the stove door, he would pause to survey the scene before picking a piece of wood. And then pause again before poking around with the andiron and finally putting the wood in. Despite all this deliberation, he was a ham, not a serious sort. His humor was whimsical, at times, cornball, and always kind. His wheelbarrow is waiting for me in Vermont. As soon as we can figure out transport, we will bring it here to join his saws, wrenches, and screwdrivers. I'm so glad I have these things, even though they make me miss him even more.