It’s good to have friends. It’s better to have good friends. Ultimately, it’s awesome to have great friends who want to come out to your place on a Saturday afternoon to play with chainsaws cutting down trees, driving a lawn tractor and trailer to haul the wood that gets cut up and keep a sense of humor about work stoppage when Mother Nature decides to throw a half hour of rain and freezing rain your way on a breezy October afternoon. Mr. Muse and I are blessed with friends like these, Euro Man and Tall Dark and Swedish, both came out yesterday to do those very things.
Four trees that had succumbed to Oak Wilt came down, were cut up, the limbs hauled to a big pile and the logs hauled up to me as I worked at the log splitter. Three other trees that they had cut down a few weeks ago were given the same work over, adding to a full cord of wood from a previous years “lumberjacking” adventure that I hauled up from the trees in the morning before their arrival. All told, using the wood splitter, we’d split one and a third cords of wood and have easily another cord of wood stacked and waiting to be split. And do not fear – there is a lot more wood out in the trees that needs to be hauled up for splitting. And, Mr. Muse and I are discussing the possibility of purchasing a splitter for ourselves as we anticipate needing to use one many a weekend in the foreseeable future. It will probably not be a gas-powered model. Despite the breeze, okay… strong breeze, yesterday – today I find my head pounding and my throat sore from breathing in too much exhaust and dust, mold, fungus and who-knows-what-else while working.
Ultimately, while my muscles are sore, my head and throat hurt and my fingertips feel like they are considering forming blisters, what I will remember most is the camaraderie had with Mr. Muse and our friends. Hard work is good for building relationships in a variety of ways from learning new skills from someone who knows them, learning new ways to approach an issue, building trust that everyone will do their part and even respect for each others efforts at getting the job done. Tall Dark and Swedish wanted to learn how to fell trees – and so that’s what he did. Euro Man wanted to join in on the work as a way to spend time with friends accomplishing something and helping us out – and he did. I wanted to move up the pile of cut wood from the back and split as much as I could – I did. We even gained respect and the admiration of both Tall Dark and Swedish and Euro Man because after we’d taken a break for dinner at a local barbecue joint, Mr. Muse and I headed back home to split wood for little while longer, and were going to do it again this morning. Going back to do more splitting and stacking of firewood wasn’t admirable in the eyes of Mr. Muse and I, merely something that needed to be done – a “making hay while the sun shines” sort of thing – but to our friends, who said they were looking forward to spending the rest of the evening relaxing once they got home, our determination to get more done was meritorious.
Today, Mr. Muse and I headed back out into the 28 degree morning to get in another hour of splitting firewood before we had to return the splitter to the hardware store. Frosty logs split and cracked as the splitter worked with Mr. Muse at the controls and I grabbed the wood, loaded up my wheelbarrow and hauled the wood to the stacks to add to them. Frosty logs make for chilly fingers, gloves or not, but soon my blood was pumping and the sweat ran down my back. Mr. Muse declared it was time to return the splitter and off he drove as I continued to stack the last of the split wood and then begin stacking the cut logs, moving them out of the driveway lest we get a heavy, early snow.
Before too long, I heard a vehicle approach on the road and the slow crunch of gravel beneath tires as I turned to see Clarence, our neighbor’s father, pull in to give me a good ribbing about “working awfully hard”. I enjoy talking to Clarence, he always starts off with the reason for his stopping in to visit, and segues into random stories – sometimes more, sometimes less – but ultimately, he always says how much he enjoys seeing how Mr. Muse and I are taking care of our property. He always comments that he doesn’t want to be a pest and interrupt, but I have to tease back that I always enjoy the break to chat with him.
He commented how important it was to him to make sure he says “hello” when he can because he enjoys it and… As he trailed off, he gave a saddish smile. I returned one of my own, bright smiles and patted his arm, finishing with, “…because life is short and people matter.” Clarence nodded, smiled, chuckled softly and then started on a new topic – asking about Mr. Muses boat in the shop that he could see through the open overhead door.
Soon, Mr. Muse returned from the hardware store, he received some teasing from Clarence, who then “tattled” on me that I hadn’t “done a THING since [he] showed up…”. He asked a few more questions about the boat, commended us on the work we’d done this weekend and that he had to go split some kindling for an in-law. He then chuckled that his in-laws didn’t care for him much, but he kept making kindling for them because he felt it would “soften them up a bit”.
It’s good to have friends. It’s good to have good friends, but ultimately, it’s great to have friends you can spending time with, whether you’re cutting down and chopping up trees or just standing in the driveway, chatting about nothing in particular on a cold, overcast Sunday in October.