The murmur of the almost frozen stream, the distant calls of ravens, and the wind whispers in the sunny tree tops, but down here at ground level it is cold in the shadows and the fallen tree trunks are sprinkled with the first fine snow of the winter season. I am cutting up a maple tree today that crashed to the ground in the last big windstorm. We still remember the mighty thud and splintering branches amid the roar of the wind as we sat eating our supper by oil lantern, - the electricity supply being the first causality of the storm. It sounded like it was just outside the window instead of down the hill a ways.
Usually I do not start my winter wood collecting until early Spring, but this tree top has landed on my neighbour’s side of the line and should be gathered and cleaned up after as soon as possible, so buzz, buzz goes the saw, followed by the thump of the splitting maul. At first my hands freeze up and I hug them tight in my arm pits to warm them, but soon my body adjusts as the work continues. Once I get help from Heather and Nicole, wheelbarrowing and stacking the split rounds, and that is a great help, and welcome company too down in this lonely, cold, corner of the world.
Usually though, it is a solitary experience, just me in the forest chopping and carrying, getting the job done, a few hours each cool sunny day, nodding to the little brown birds that seek food amid the fallen branches and listening in to the raven-talk across the valley.