In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's all about wood, continued ...*

Our relationship to firewood has continued to evolve since we first arrived in Nova Scotia. Back then, our most recent experience with actual fire -- as opposed to heat coming out of radiators --was a gas log fireplace. Which was pretty nice, really, with its remote control and all. Quite cozy. And nothing but icing on the cake, since back then the real heat was supplied by some mysterious furnace in the basement that we hardly ever even gave a thought to, even when we probably should have.

Here, we saw right away that by the end of April most people already had huge wide orderly walls of next winter's wood sitting in their yards, cords and cords of it, split and stacked and drying. It was a little intimidating to imagine the amount of labour involved in this one housekeeping item. But it was exciting, too. We had wanted to deal with life on a more elementary level. What could be more elementary than providing our own heat from start to finish instead of writing a monthly cheque to the anonymous purveyors of oil or gas or electricity?

As we observed our new environment more closely, we saw that many people kept their wood in an actual extra old house or shed. This is not the sort of thing you notice right away, stacked firewood peering out of the windows of old buildings. Instead it's a telling detail that reveals itself in due time.

The back room of this very house was an attached wood shed before it became a guest room in the 1960s. Keeping the firewood dry and getting to it easily was not a problem for the families that lived in this house before us. But it was for us, at least until now.
Now Greg has finished building our covered wood shed. He used spruce poles for the uprights and recycled local lumber for the rest.
He planned it with a big overhang in front to cut down on the effect of weather that blows in from the southwest, as it mostly does. And also so I will have cover while I'm getting wood off the pile.
This is a huge improvement over our first and second winters, when I tried to keep the woodpile dry with big pieces of heavy plastic sheeting, secured against the wind by random logs and stones. It worked okay, most of the time. But I have a feeling that this is going to be lots better.

Some firewood connoisseurs say it's best to allow the wind to blow through your wood stack so that drying continues all the time. That's the theory we have embraced for now. If it doesn't work we can always restore the guest room to its original purpose.

*I realized that firewood has been a recurring theme, so I made a new label -- firewood -- in case you'd like to read earlier posts on the subject.

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