Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wealth. Grows on trees, you know.

It's true that I have never had much money, and still don't.  There have been times when I've been exceptionally poor, but I have never suffered a massive substance addiction, or severe mental illness, I don't have children to support, and I live in a welfare state.  So despite prior and current health debacles, and a bankruptcy once upon a time, I've been OK.  Never starved (except ironically due to medical problems rather than monetary) and never truly homeless.

It's also true that I've had a few rather well-paid and at times satisfying jobs, so I'm no stranger to comfortable financial surrounds either.  Long-term readers may recall that I was able to buy this modest wee house only because of the silver lining of the Australian Public Service's chosen superannuation provider's compulsory Death And Total And Permanent Disability Insurance.

I have learned through all these tribulations a fair bit about wealth.  And today especially I feel most wealthy indeed.  Our small income has not changed at all.  The other day though, we paid homage to the changing of the seasons and had 2 tons of firewood delivered.

While I was out, Meeta stacked pretty much all of this.  What an excellent thing to come home to.

Yet more.  There's still a pile in the driveway too.

What a fabulous feeling.  Not so long ago my dream of woody wealth had me being the contented steward of a modest forest, felling a tree or so respectfully every summer and spending a couple of days with saw and axe and (romantically) oxcart to bring the winter's fuel home.  We'd have a really efficient wood range that we'd cook with and which would supplement the solar heated water for showering etc.  Our food would mostly come from the permacultured ecoparadise that existed around the house with roses and fruit trees and all manner of small-bird-habitat shrubbery between us and the parkland-cleared horse paddocks inside our ring of forest.

I know that feeling so well that I can anchor it to buying a load of firewood.  I can't physically do all the stuff I need to do to live that dream, and probabilistically speaking the trees I plant will mainly bear fruit after I am gone, but I have dreamt the dream deeply and all of that future fulfillment has become a part of my present, now that the longing has been healed.

Don't get me wrong, we still buy the odd lotto ticket and it would be a fabulous adventure to move to such a place as I have described, substituting money and the hands of others for my own abilities, but I am in large measure now content with my worldly lot.

All because I can still manage to get a great stack of wood for the winter, and I can still carry it inside.  Sure, moving and stacking half a ton has taken me three days, but I can still enjoy it.  There's a very satisfying meditation in building a nice wall of wood.  Splitting kindling's sort of fun now.  I'll try for a video.  It'll look like a guy in slo-mo, hung up on invisible elastic skyhooks as he tries to reach the ground.  Very carefully not dropping an axe.

There's another whole thing about this wood that's made me happy too.  It's been harvested by guys who actually care about trees.  You can tell by the way the wood's been handled and cut.  I have cut and burned much wood in my time, and used to work a bit as a firewood contractor so I do know something about it all.  There are few certified sustainable contractors and these guys are also tree surgeons etc so they have a pretty rounded tree thing going on.  A good vibe.  Plus, I can confidently assert that our 'two tons' was more than that.  Good business sense, that, especially for first-time customers.  And good wood.

Mostly white gum, but with some banksia and jarrah thrown in.  A fair proportion of recycled jarrah fence posts, no ants, termites, all well split and seasoned.  Can you tell I love firewood?

I really do - always have.  Heat can be gotten from many sources, but there is something undeniably sacred about releasing the sunlight that a tree absorbed over a century ago, sending that life energy back into the grand cycle.

Soon, the weather will turn.  Soon, we will light the fire and warm the heart of our house.

Thanks tree guys.  Thanks, trees.

Should serious poverty ever come my way again, or even worse than I have known, I shall feel wealthy whenever I can sit by a fire.



  1. I thought your name was Eric - blenderized diet group on Yahoo.

    Anyway, I like the word "probabilistically". Don't know if it's a real word or not - hope it's not. Yes sitting by a fire is a sweet time. I was doing that here in Chicago this afternoon, as winter takes its leave and Spring's promises are in the air!
    Nice to read your blog!
    Lynn -

  2. I so enjoyed reading your firewood story. And can say that being from a farm where my father delighted in chopping wood, of which I have many childhood Sunday-afternoon memories, can relate to your love of the weathered, sweetly-scented stuff. Thanks for sharing and being. Natalie x

  3. ...plasma in the evenings makes me happy..

  4. it is great to appreciate things in life, well done