We began the stack of wood last weekend, the kids and Susan and I. A yearly ritual, it is not joyful, but dutiful. We haven't learned the art of making beauty out of our necessity, but it's hard when there are so many other things we could and probably should be doing. We throw the wood in the trailer and then I drive in reverse, back to the house and there we try to make a neat stack, one of the five cords we will put in by the time we are done. We make a relay, from me to Susan and the two girls and Michael, and in this way it goes pretty quickly. When we are done, it will be satisfying to see the wood and know we will be okay.
But we aren't simple people yet, informed by the work we do. Instead we are distracted, and this is just one of the many aspects of the busyness that defines us. In October, the trees are at the height of their splendor, this year better than most. But I drive down the road, lost in the petty thoughts of the morning commute, little notice paid to the migrating geese overhead or the expressive palette in the birch, beech and sugar maples. This is wrong, I know; it's killing me without a doubt. Certainly and with impeccable timing, a moment arrives in the fall when I am ticking over and little else. Cooked.
It's called survival, keeping a head above water. I just listened to a podcast about the disappearance of languages, part of the massive extinction of surviving native cultures around the world. When a language dies, a way of looking, thinking and remembering goes down also. The ways of our impoverishment will be a mystery to us. But we can't drown in sorrow. In a way, this may be a kind of joy, this survival, with the grain of sorrow in it.