The Firewood Fiasco, By Renea Winchester
Those who have read my book, In The Garden With Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes know that I am permanently and irrevocably grounded from operating any type of machinery…especially a chainsaw. The reasoning behind this is simple; my husband prefers that I keep all ten fingers and toes.
However, from time to time it becomes necessary that I require the services of a chainsaw, as was the case when we returned home from the Christmas break to find a large pine tree down in the front yard. Now before I really begin telling what happened, let the record (and photo) reveal that I believe the power company dropped the pine tree in my front yard. I assume this after looking at the photo I took of the tree. See the skinny poplar in the background near the power pole? It didn’t cut itself in half now, did it?
My husband cut the wood into fireplace-sized chunks that would be perfect for Billy to use. His house is devoid of modern heating “contraptions” such as a heat pump; instead he relies on wood heat.
And before I get complaints on the danger of burning pine, Billy assures me that he only burns “seasoned” pine and he mixes it with “a good stick of hardwood.” I have already offered my opinion on pine and how (I believe) it is best used as wood chips. But Billy burns pine and that’s that.
With the pine now in chunks I called Billy and told him to c’mon over and we’d load his wood. I also said he “better bring his chain saw just in case.” I did this because I wanted to have all the wood stacked and ready before he arrived. While Billy cut the limbs into curb-approved lengths, for the “stick men” to pick up, I’d fill his truck.
I’m sneaky like that. Besides, he is almost eighty you know.
And the plan was perfect. Worked like a charm. Billy cut, I loaded. It was a win-win situation…until the following week.
Readers also know that Billy sells firewood during the winter months. And as most Atlanta Metro residents recall, we had a “hum-dinger” of a storm a couple weeks ago. Five to seven inches of snow fell. School was canceled for a week. Meaning, Billy’s firewood was selling like hotcakes as the few homeowners in the area who actually own a wood-burning fireplace stocked up on logs. The wood sold so fast that Billy didn’t realize his supply was dwindling; leaving nothing but the pine I had loaded into his truck the previous week. Pine that is not only unseasoned, but also physically wet and in need of splitting.
Translation: Billy is almost out of firewood, it’s January and I am worried. Billy of course isn’t, he relies on God.
Enter Kelle Mcentegart, a wonderful photographer and close friend of Billy’s. She made plans to assemble a group of men who would come by on the weekend, split the wood and take care of this crisis. We only needed to get him through this week.
“I’ve got enough laying around my house to carry him through the week,” I offered. And in typical “Git-R-Dun” style she and I solved the problem. She’d take care of Saturday. I’d take care of the in-between time. Tuesday night I delivered enough wood to last until Saturday.
Wednesday night when I stopped by to visit every stick was gone.
Not because Billy sold it. No dear reader, he removed the “Firewood” sign long before the first snowflake fell two weeks ago. Someone pulled into his driveway and took the wood.
Oh yes, they did.
In their defense, they left money.
In Billy’s defense, the “Firewood” sign was NOT out. Translation: Dear Customer, this wood is not for sale.”
Have I mentioned that Billy has sprained his knee, so he really can’t be wielding an axe? And, as you can tell by my response to the missing wood, I have a long way to go before I am as good as Billy. While I was very upset and even more concerned about his need for wood, he wasn’t worried.
I returned to my woods, scrounged around for something, anything he could burn and came up with enough last to Saturday and this time I have posted a sign on the wheelbarrow which reads, “Billy’s personal firewood NOT for sale.”
And with flurries in the forecast for tomorrow I’m thinking perhaps I should stand guard.