An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Thursday, June 28, 2018

They call me "Lightning"...

We had a few trees taken down on our property a few weeks ago. Nine in all -- four fir, two cottonwood, two paulonia, and one maple.

It was a very impressive sight, watching them climb up the trees, limbing on the way up, then taking the trunk down in sections. All done in one day, including clean-up, chipping all the branches, and cutting the trunks into lengths for firewood.

The cutter seemed to know just exactly how to tip each section as it dropped so that it landed flat lengthwise, regardless of its length or height. No digging into the ground. I guess that's why they're professionals...

The chipper was rather intimidating -- a tow-behind model that took the entire cottonwood trees, from 8" diameter trunk to every small branch, chewed them up and spit them out into the back of a truck.

We also had them leave the chips for us to use. It's quite a large ridge alongside our shed.

But that also left a very large pile of firewood sections for me to split and stack. I literally had my work cut out for me.

We've been working at it a little bit at a time, an hour or a little more here and there, progress.

I started out just using an axe. Something that I inherited from my father, it's fairly old, and the head slowly creeps towards the end of the wooden handle. I need to either get a new one with a fiberglass handle, or get a new wood handle installed on this one. But in any case, I got some of the paulonia done with just that axe. The fir, though, was a totally different story. The axe just bounced off, making small marks on the rounds, but nothing in the way of cracks through the wood.

I needed something more aggressive.

My wife, bless her, was all for renting a hydraulic splitter. I'm a hands-on kind of guy. I build my bikes by hand, and prefer hand saws to electric skilsaws. Maybe I'm just an anachronism.

Splitting wood is about the maul. Part wedge, part axe, heavy, effective, and most importantly, manually operated. I have the head from one that has traveled with me for almost 30 years through several moves, the handle long since lost to use. 

The most effective implement to
split firewood -- at least manually.
So my wife picked up a new splitting maul from the local hardware store, a nice fiberglass handled model, with yellow rubber grips, all shiny black and sharp.

I started in on the stacks of fir rounds. The familiar heft, a quick heave, and the satisfying sound of the wood fibers separating. Slowly, the rounds became pie-shaped pieces (well, if the pie were 18" in diameter and 14" tall) suitable for the wood stove. It's kind of cathartic.

Mentally, it takes me back to fall and winter days with my father, cutting and splitting firewood. Sometimes we would sell a few cords, sometimes it would be kept to feed the wood stove in the basement.

We had a running joke when it came to splitting the wood.

"They call me Lightning."

"Because you're so fast?"

"No, because I never strike twice in the same place."
Note: This is not our pile
of firewood.

It's getting better, the aim and control of the maul. It's been a lot of years since I've swung one.

And my wife even recognizes the satisfaction of a good workout and seeing the wood getting split.

Now to get it all stacked in the shed...

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