Laying In for the Season

I’m a creature molded by my upbringing, my genes, and the long trail of forebears who had a harder life surviving and passing on all they could so I can be alive.  One of the vestiges of this pre-programmed history is the notion that winter is difficult, dangerous, and uncertain.  To protect against winter and provide warmth and safety you must have firewood.  And maybe a club to fight off bears.  This made a lot of sense to my ancestors in Scotland, some to my upbringing on the East Coast, and absolutely none here in Southern California.  When the zombie apocalypse/nationwide grid meltdown/societal collapse happens, our problem in San Diego won’t be keeping warm.  We’ll die of thirst in a few weeks long before we ever think, “Gee, it would be nice to have a cozy fire on this sixty-degree day.”

So…why do I still do this?

Firewood stack


Here’s a cord of wood laid up against the house like acorns in a squirrel’s nest.  Child Harbat helped me stack a good deal of it, declaring “This is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life.”  She is nothing but raw hyperbole, but to her credit she must’ve moved a hundred pounds of wood, stopping only when the pile was above her head.

As I moved between the pile of wood on the street and the growing stack under our eaves, I couldn’t rid the image in my mind that I should be wearing a thick flannel shirt, heavy boots, and would be eyeing the growing clouds and wondering if I could finish before the first blizzard of the season blasted in.  Instead I was wondering why I was stacking heating fuel when it was 80 degrees and likely to remain so for another few months.  There hasn’t been any measurable rain here for at least five months, and last winter I could wear a t-shirt outside without health concerns almost every day of the year.  But it’s in my blood, this need to stock up and feel we are PREPARED.  And it’s not just me–I’ve passed on this idiotic autumnal excitement to my kids, who want to cozy up to the fire even though we have all the windows open and are hoping the outside mercury dips below seventy.  After stacking all that wood, CH would be damned if we didn’t have a fire.  So, in my shorts and t-shirt, I built the first fire of the season.  And lo it was enjoyed by all.

First fire of season


Number Two sitting at fire

Writer, architect, father, husband.

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