Chopping wood – The world’s most satisfying task

Well, another installment in the saga that is the insect-infested oak tree that we cut down. The good news about cutting down an oak tree is that you have firewood for life. The bad news is … there is lots and lots of wood to split.

Piles of wood waiting patiently to be split
Piles of wood waiting patiently to be split

I’ve tried to split wood exactly one other time. While working in Antarctica, for some utterly inexplicable reason, I was assigned the task of chopping wood to smoke the Thanksgiving turkey(ies). Inexplicable because I had no aptitude for wood-chopping, nor any physical characteristics that might suggest I would be good at this task. I cannot offer any reasonable explanation for this assignment. But I dutifully went outside the carp shop and attempt to chop. Which resulted immediately in my getting the axe stuck in the slab of oak.

Thankfully (ha!) in Antarctica there is NO SHORTAGE of men who are VERY EAGER to show off their wood-splitting prowess. There are LOTS of lumberjack beards in Antarctica. Stand around and look helpless for a few moments, and men leap out of the woodwork (ha ha!), ready and eager to chop away. So I stood aside and clapped with enjoyment as they chopped, happy that I was off the hook.

So fast-forward to today. This time around, my saviors came in the form of my lovely neighbors Rich and Joanne, who graciously lent me the use of their gasoline-powered wood splitter. This wood splitter is the Best. Thing. Ever. It’s just wonderful. You put a piece of wood in there, and a hydraulic-powered wedge splits the wood just like a piece of string cheese. It’s a sight to behold. (In fact, you can behold it for yourself in the video below.)

My hero!
My hero!

If you’ve never chopped a pile of wood in your life, let me just say, it is IMMENSELY satisfying. To stock up with wood that can keep you warm through the winter? It’s like canning on steroids.

But let’s be honest. There is NOTHING remotely self-sufficient about this task the way I’m doing it. Sure, if I was truly chopping it by hand, that’d be something. But I’m taking crude oil that was pumped from thousands of miles below the earth’s surface in the Middle East or the Gulf of Mexico, shipped to a refinery in, I don’t know, Whiting, then refined into gasoline, trucked to a local gas station, and then poured into a gasoline engine, to power the hydraulic wedge. It’s like the furthest thing from sustainable. But gosh darn if this pile of split wood isn’t the most satisfying thing ever.

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