I saw a man gathering kindling in his arms. A backhoe sat idling nearby. Was he collecting that much wood or was he planning on ramming trees to the ground for firewood? And the logs that he had gathered, had they sat long enough on the forest floor to kindle a fire tomorrow when the snow comes?
I moved to the country just as the cold season started. ‘Seasoning wood’ was a term somewhere on the horizon of my consciousness. It was not something I needed to understand or attend to. Luckily the people we bought our house from left some logs stashed in the back of the garage, seasoned from last year’s growing season.
The image of that man hugging a bundle of logs close to his chest made me wonder. Will those logs in the garage be enough if we lose power this weekend? And what about the stack of logs in our backyard, sawed and split after Hurricane Sandy? Will they watch in moldy moisture as we freeze when our seasoned wood runs out?
And then I wondered . . . what did people do before meteorology? Did we actually have to pay attention to our surroundings and changing seasons and be prepared? Were we ants to today’s grasshoppers?
I hear the calls for bread and milk. For full gas tanks and new snow blowers. I see the last-minute hustle of wood gathering.
I do not see the storm clouds yet. I do not feel that raw damp that precedes snowfall.
If it weren’t for advanced radar, we might get caught unawares.
But were any true New Englanders ever caught unawares? As much as their means would allow, the pantries were stocked, the log pile stacked, the hatches battened.
Modern life had made us soft; has made us forget how to pay attention to our surroundings and react accordingly.
We rely on the convenience store down the street for our jug of milk, the mindless flick of a thermostat for heat, the talking head on TV when to tell us to be alarmed.
Good old Yankee ingenuity and self-reliance never hurt anyone. Maybe it should make a comeback.
* As should Game of Thrones, which I no doubt would be watching during this storm – if the power didn’t go out and the next season didn’t start after the season of winter is over!