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Jeff Wilkin's Type A To Z
by Jeff Wilkin

Type A To Z

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Burn notice

The chill of October is here. Fireplace season has arrived.

For me, that means flames, crackle, pop and sizzle just about every weekend through next spring.

I’m a traditionalist at heart, even a nature lover. That’s why I’ll always burn cherry, maple, oak, locust and any other kind of hard wood I can get my hands on. The day I convert my old red brick fireplace to one of those gas-fired aberrations is the day the world runs out of damn trees.

That day has not come. My wood supplier showed up on Saturday, Oct. 13, with a small dump truck full of split pieces. The load ended up at the foot of my narrow driveway in Albany, and I moved every chunk to the back section of the driveway with my old green wheelbarrow.

Normally, the wood guys can sneak up the side yard of my neighbor, Dino, and pile the wood in the driveway just in back of my house. But Dino has just put in a new lawn, and an underground sprinkler system, and I would have hated to see either damaged by the damn heavy tires of a Mack truck. I was looking forward to the exercise anyway.

I had wood pallets all in place. I decided to count the full cord, and tossed the first 20 pieces into the wheelbarrow. I rolled the load back, stacked the pieces and returned to the big pile. It took about two hours, and 37 trips of 20 pieces each, but in the end I had 741 pieces ready for winter. And I won’t even touch this wood until probably January. I’ve still got stock from last winter that will be initially incinerated as the owl hoots, the crow flies and the snow begins to swirl.

The wood workouts are ones I really appreciate. In addition to moving arms, legs and muscles, you’re doing something constructive. Same thing happens when I ride my bicycle into work; I’m exercising, conserving fuel and keeping a little pollution out of the atmosphere. Exercise with a purpose!

Yeah, yeah, I know. Burning firewood puts a bunch of smoke into the air, too. But everybody has to burn something to keep warm. At least I’m saving fuel oil when I light my fireplace. I’m actually saving fuel oil when I don’t light my fireplace. I like a cool house. One of the advantages, perhaps one of the few advantages, that comes with bachelor living.

But it’s also a nice feeling, knowing if we have an especially cold winter, I’m ready.

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