I fail at mountain living

I will never be a bona fide mountain man mostly because I can’t grow a beard and I don’t own a good pair of boots but also because I cannot stack wood properly. See, wood is supposed to be arranged in a tidy pile that stands 4 or 5 feet high and is stable, as in it doesn’t all wobble around when you touch it. The gaps in  between the individual pieces of wood should be minuscule; they should all fit together like some sort of puzzle. None of those things apply to my caches of firewood.

I’ll bet these guys can stack wood until the moose come home. In fact, I think they’re living in a wood pile; they’ve stacked it so perfectly, it doubles as a house. With a lot of raw pine furniture. Stupid mountain men showing me up with their mad wood-pile skillz.

My abhorrent woodpiles were first noticed by my ex-father-in-law. He was a nice man and took pity on me, a girl who obviously had never been taught the art of creating order out of split wood chaos despite living in the mountains, and showed me how it is done. He walked me through making a stack between two trees.  After watching me and sharing some helpful suggestions, he left the premises, secure in the knowledge that he had passed his skills on to the next generation. When he returned ten minutes later and saw what I’d done, he yelled, “Oh for the LOVE OF GOD! What the hell happened here? This is supposed to be a stack of wood, not a public art display! A herd of cows could walk through all the gaps you left in that pile!”
I looked at my work critically, then said, “But not hippos.”
I repeated, “Not hippos. Hippos couldn’t walk through those gaps.”
And he had to admit I was getting better.

A few years ago, a kindly neighbor also noticed my lack of skills and tried to learn me some good stackin’. I wound up with a pile of wood that the neighborhood cats like to use as a type of mechanical bull. They stand atop the pile and see who can stay on longest before the fear of it all toppling around them becomes too much and they have to leap to the safety of the fence. On the bright side, though, now the gaps between logs would only fit a pack of dogs. Newfoundlands or St. Bernards.

When a new load of firewood appeared at the beginning of the month, I tried hard to stack it perfectly. I avoided the misshapen pieces of wood, leaving them for the top of the pile. I made sure I was going from biggest on the bottom to smallest on the top. I tried to make everything fit, to make the line of wood even, to make it rock solid so that not even the damn bear crawling over the fence and down the woodpile could cause disarray.

And this is how it turned out:


For people who have never seen a proper stack of wood, please think to yourself, “I don’t see the problem! This looks great!” and for the rest of you who are unable to look at this picture because it hurts your eyes…well, you can just come over and re-stack it for me. You’re all so judgey. It will still burn. I think.

You’re probably wondering, “If you’re really that bad at stacking wood, why not just make Gabe do it?”
Therein lies the rub. He is even worse at it than I. Actually, I’m pretty sure he would use his skills as a weapon, intending for a whole cord to fall down on me, stabbing me through the eye with some pokey bit. And that’s why I have to make ugly piles of wood in my backyard – to keep my husband from killing me before I can kill him.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard

15 responses to “I fail at mountain living

  1. abrielolive

    And my death-stack would have worked too had you not decided to re-stack it last week! Since we do not have any enraged badgers I was THIS close to brokering a deal with the squirrels for some feisty muskrats to stick in the gaps 😦
    I guess I need another plan.
    Have you seen my ruler and box of crayons?

    • You can’t bargain with the squirrels. They know from whence their food comes.

    • Next time, try using kittens to fill the gaps. They’re easy to maneuver and small enough to stack if necessary. Plus, if you fill a gap and part of the kitten is sticking out, it’s just cute. People will come from miles around to pet your woodpiles.
      Also – I have your crayons. I borrowed them to put the finishing touches on my house. I went with the “Happily Dysfunctional Stick Family by Crayola” theme. I broke the red one. Sorry.

  2. Wow, I didn’t know properly stacking wood was A THING. And I thought I was pretty outdoorsy.

  3. Hah! I never knew I’d be judgey about a woodpile until I saw this *g* Then again, I think I was taught to stack wood when I was…8? and I’m fairly sure my parents tricked me in to believing it was fun.

  4. “But not hippos.” OH. MY. GOD! Coffee came out my nose.
    You know what I think your woodpile looks like?

    A pile of wood.

    But then again, I’m an optimist with absolutely no survival skills whatsoever. If we went camping and you told me to set up the tent while you went to look for firewood and you got lost in the woods for 14 hours and then finally made your way back to me, you would find one corner of the tent tied to a tree and the opposite corner tied to a squirrel with me underneath it, rocking in the fetal position mumbling something about too many poles and that the elves don’t like my sacrifice. It’s awful. I’m pretty sure the only reason my friends ever ask me to go hiking in the mountains with them is so that they have bear food if need be.

    • See, you are EXACTLY the kind of friend I need around at all times. I would totally feel amazing about my minimal skill set because I don’t lie under squirrels whilst erecting tents. I feel better about myself already.
      Also, I’d protect you from bears. Mostly so that you’d be even more impressed with me.

  5. Tyler J. Yoder

    THE THIRD TIME IN ONE DAY. Oh, my stars.
    I was always miserable at stacking wood. One day, my former boss called me – I worked in concrete, and in winter there wasn’t as much work, so he’d call every day about when I needed to leave to let me know whether I should bother – and he said that while there wasn’t any real work that day, I could split and stack apparently six tree’s worth of wood. It kept me busy for a week, and I kept having to stack and restack because I was trying very hard to be butch.
    I did not succeed.

    • Alrighty, then. When you and your dignity move into the basement, we will be an entire household of shoddy wood-stackers and it will probably be the demise of us all. BUT! Since you know concrete, we have projects. That will make up for your inability to stack wood. I make up for that inability by working two jobs and paying all the bills. Gabe makes up for it by cooking and cleaning. So that leaves projects for you! Yay!

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