When we were quite young, my Beautiful Girlfriend and I were plucked from suburban lifestyles and thrown into the Northern Wisconsin Dingleweeds. Strangely enough, both of us ended up in the same small town called Rhinelander; which slapped each of us in the brainplace with some heavy duty culture shock. However, we met and then fell in love in that quaint little town. And if we make it to August, our marriage will have lasted a miraculous 45 years.
Pretty sure we’ll make it. Not sure how I lucked out, but somehow the Most Beautiful Woman In The Universe became my best friend. And then she let me marry her!!
Besides our relationship, a marvelous benefit arose from small town life: we both acquired a deep fondness of Nature and natural living. And no, by natural living I don’t mean residing in the bush with stone tools and strange, handcrafted clothing. I’m talking about farm life. Our huge (well, maybe not so huge) plot of 5 acres has given our children and us much joy and lots of delicious homegrown veggies over the years. A couple of creeks traverse the property; which provide an amazing playground for kids of all ages, and of course a unique environment for all types of living things. We very much enjoy seeing and hearing all the creatures with whom we share our small chunk of Paradise.
Another part of country living of which we’ve grown rather fond is the bone-warming feeling of wood heat. At first, burning wood was an economic necessity. Our home was built in 1940, and no thought was given toward any insulation at all. Consequently, the Oil Guzzling Furnace Monster in the basement was sucking money right out of our wallets. Thankfully, the chimney was originally built to withstand the burning of coal; so it was ideal for burning wood.
When we were kids, my brother and I were total wood slaves. Dad loved his fire, and we cut, chopped, stacked, and toted many tons of firewood to keep it going. Believe it or not, I actually began to enjoy all this manual labor. It was a great way for a frustrated teen to blow off steam without being destructive. Kept me pretty fit too. And little did I know that all those wood slave skills would one day ease the economic burden of keeping an old, uninsulated house warm.
Since I work full time, I buy most of our wood. Hauling it from outside to inside still helps me stay fit, and believe it or not, I’m still pretty OK with being a wood slave. We’ve greatly improved both the the wood burning appliances over the years and have remedied much of the insulation woes. This place is pretty darn cozy, even when it’s well below zero outside. The Oil Guzzling Furnace Monster has been replace with a high efficiency natural gas furnace; and it might actually be cheaper to heat with gas. But we are hooked on the wood because it warms the body much better.
When you’re a firewood customer; you run into some very interesting folks who cut wood for profit. To be honest, I’m not sure how they can make a profit after putting in all the work of cutting, hauling, and then delivering it to me for $180 a cord. We go through about 6 cords a year; so we have to find someone who works with large quantities of firewood. We’ll look through the newspaper, or maybe on Craig’s List, and give them a try with a cord or two. If we like what we see, we buy more. Always with cash… they gotta have cash. And who could blame them? However, we’ve learned that if a firewood guy says he’s coming on Saturday at 4 PM, that means he’ll probably be there on Saturday… but who knows what time. “Oh, I was on a different run so I thought I’d come early” one might say while we’re eating breakfast. Or perhaps they don’t show until 9:30 PM. And some of the trucks these guys own look like they’ve been in a demolition derby. Regardless of all that, I’ve never met a firewood guy I didn’t like.
Our current firewood folks are real weirdos. They wear clean clothes. They show up on time. They have a truck that’s older but it’s obvious they keep it in very good shape. They have all their teeth. They’re really, REALLY nice. And they have very nice wood.
We got pretty low, so I ordered 2 cords the other day. Most of it will still be with us in the fall. I went to the drive up ATM the other night to get the cash. Dunno about you, but this country boy don’t see $360 in $20 bills very often. Kinda dazzled me I guess. Anyway, the following morning I stopped at the gas station to get an orange juice; and I noticed my debit card was missing. Went back inside, but nobody found my card there. Started retracing my steps… Family Farm & Home. Called them. Nope, no debit card. Then I called Family Financial Credit Union where the ATM is. “Yes, it was shredded,” said the nice lady; and then she explained, “if you forget your card in the slot, it’s automatically shredded.” “Good!!” I said. Not because I was happy my card was destroyed, but I was relieved that it wasn’t lying about somewhere.
Oh well. As the old saying goes, “cashes to ashes, dust to dust.”