How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Under my breath I recited this old children’s tongue-twister as I rumbled along a dusty dirt road this week. I drove my Uncle Don’s old half ton with a heavy load of timber. Now that he’s passed away, my aunt needs more help than ever to get in enough firewood for the icy winter ahead.
Could I have chosen a hotter few days to do it? Probably not. Standing in a shady glade of rustling poplars to take a break was restful though. And listening to the eerie cries of a hawk wheeling overhead was lovely. Even the overpowering scent of flowering canola was nice, and served to take my attention off the sweat that rolled from my forehead and trickled down between my shoulder blades. I was boiling!
I wasn’t alone though. My cousin Chad “bucked” up the dead trees (a term meaning to fell and cut up a tree that I’d never heard before) and I loaded the logs into our two trucks to haul back to the house. I’ve always said that I enjoy a little mindless, manual labour, but hucking 40-pound logs when the temperature rises above 30C is a fool’s game.
I collapsed beside the truck, struggling to catch my breath and calm my beating heart. After gathering the strength to lift a jug of water to my parched lips, I paused to check my pulse on my stupid smart-watch (an oxymoron if ever I’ve used one) thinking it would be abnormally high.
That can’t be right, I thought dazedly — 73 beats per minute? That’s nothing!But my heart felt like I’d just been chased up Mount Everest by a bear.
Alternatively, as I’d driven to work in the crisp morning air, a soft breeze ruffling my hair and a smile playing about my lips, this same watch had suddenly leapt to life. CAUTION it advised with flashing blue letters and a fierce buzzing on my arm. “Your heartrate is dangerously high!” Now I ask you, what sense does that make?
Heaving myself up, I forgot about stupid watches and their cryptic, threatening messages as I scrambled behind the wheel and eased the loaded truck up a steep ditch. It had taken two hours to load both vehicles high with cut wood.Naturally, something had to go wrong.
Bang! Rumble! Reaching level ground, I threw the truck out of gear, applied the brake, and rushed to see what had happened. Great. The end gate had jiggled loose as I climbed the grade, fallen open, and 70 per cent of the wood had tumbled back down the hill. Yay, I got to load it twice.
Wearily tossing the bloody logs back into the truck, I realized how important it is to keep the right attitude during trying times. There’s usually always something to be thankful for. In this case several things spring to mind. Firstly, I got to spend time with Chad and Esther. Second, with any luck, I’ll become fitter. And third, and most importantly, my dear aunt and friend, Esther, will be warm and toasty this winter when the thermometer reaches -46C.
But seriously, how much wood do we need? I’m beat.
Born in Maidstone, Sask. Helen Row Toews is a humorist and author. She lives on the family farm near Marshall, Sask.