Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cabin Life: The Wet Firewood

The Little StreamAs is my new custom, I’m sitting at the table looking out the big window at the winter weather, and I’m sweating.  The new stove is amazing, but way too large for my little cabin.  A wealth of heat is not necessarily a bad thing, but having the cabin feel like a too-hot summer is a little disconcerting.

I open one of the windows a little more, since all the windows that can open, are already open.  I’m greeted with sounds that are both welcome and unwelcome at the same time.  The sound of snow and ice dripping off of the roof is nice, but the sound of freezing rain is unpleasant.  I woke to a half-inch of ice covering everything.  I can also hear the small rushing stream out back.  It typically only flows in the spring, but now it sounds like constant traffic.  It’s eerily out of place.

Around noon I went out and started my car.  I wanted to get as much ice off as possible before the second round of sleet and freezing rain began.  It was only a little below freezing, but because it was thick and took me most of an hour with the defroster and an ice scraper.  The radio playing in the car told me to stay off the roads for unnecessary travel, but I was out of beer.

I had other reasons for making the four-mile trip to the store.  The car only had a little gas, so in case I needed to use it as a generator for a few days, I figured I’d better fill up.  I also wanted to get the paper, and get the gossip from whoever was working.  I quickly discovered that the most dangerous part of my journey was the driveway.  The main roads were fine, but I took it slow just the same.

I got back to the cabin, read the paper and did the crossword.  Well, most of the crossword.  Okay, some of the crossword.  I found out at the store that we didn’t get the brunt of the storm.  I’m glad for that, and that everyone around here seems to still have power.  Not that it affects me, but everyone else I know relies on the power and phone lines.

It’s not that I got off scot-free.  My firewood is wet.  Not all of it, but a decent portion.  The old metal roofing had holes in it when I put it up over the summer, but until now very little water leaked through.  Now, eight inches of snow on top iced-up and couldn’t drain well enough.  Every little hole started to leak.  There’s nothing I can do at this point short of moving all three cord or so into another overcrowded shed.

I’ve been picking and choosing the dry pieces stacked below the wet ones on top.  I’ve also brought a pile of  wet wood inside and stacked it behind the stove where it should dry pretty quickly.  The biggest problem is that the weather is going to be bitter cold again. That will freeze the water onto the wood, so I’ll be thawing firewood for the rest of the winter.  That’s not something I look forward to.

You’d think that after a full two years out here, I’d have all this figured out.  But I don’t, and I’m okay with that.  It’s a process, a learning experience.  I’ve made many, many things better out here, but there’s some things I just can’t control.  Like the ridiculous temperature swings.  It’s sixty degrees warmer than it was last weekend, and by the middle of the week, it’s supposed to be almost fifty degrees colder than it is now.  At least now I don’t have to worry about the stove keeping the cabin warm enough;  I just have to worry about having dry wood to put in the stove.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that this is the one-hundredth essay I’ve written in the Cabin Life series.  I never expected the amount of readers that have found my stories interesting.  Thank you for reading, I hope you get as much enjoyment out of these essays as I do.  Thank You.


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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

6 Responses

  1. joanstreetman says:

    I enjoy all your stories and Happy New Year

  2. Chris Denno says:

    Thanks, Justin, I enjoy your stories, too. We used to dream of a life like yours, but now that we are old, happy to be near medical care. We’ll have to settle for heating with wood and keeping chickens (and ponies).

    Happy New Year,


  3. alex mckay says:

    how aqbout putting some wood in the car – give you better traction and keep rotating for dry wood? enjoy yur posts – happy new year

  4. Gary Shaver says:

    Congrats on the 100 and Happy New Year!


  5. Mike from Indian Lake says:

    My wife and I love reading your short stories. Keep up the good work. Happy New Year!

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