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.
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:
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.