Monday, January 3, 2011

Wherefore art thou Wood

Happy New Year 2011! Twenty-Eleven (or Two-Thousand Eleven, if you prefer). The words sound high tech, science fiction-like; the future has become the present.

For my first blog entry of 2011, I shall discuss a technology that sounds "old school," but may actually be quite appropriate for the future: a wood furnace. I shall also discuss one of my favorite activities: splitting wood. And I have yet another educational comic to share, which involves (you guessed it)--wood.

When I returned home for Christmas, I was glad to meet a gathering of stumps in my parents' backyard, the remains of a cherry tree. I fetched the maul to prepare wood for stove. My brother Carl (left) joined in the action.

In the immortal words of Henry David Thoreau, "He who splits his own wood warms himself twice."

Splitting wood is one of the most rewarding forms of exercise. It gets the blood pumping, and works both the upper body and core muscles. One hears the satisfying THWACK of a well-placed blow, and sees the two halves of stump fly in opposite directions. As the pile of firewood around him grows, so does the splitter's sense of satisfaction. The morning chorus of birds provides background music to this ancient and practical sort of work-out.

I trained in the art of wood-splitting at The Homestead. Since graduating, I have experienced some splitting deprivation, as most of my subsequent residences have been heated exclusively by gas or electricity. Still, I jump at the opportunity to bring maul to stump, and split wood voluntarily for Land's Sake last spring when I was in Massachusetts.

The ecological footprint of wood fuel is debated. It is worth noting the wood is a local resource, which can be harvested and used with little or no expenditure of middle-eastern oil. And it is renewable, provided that one harvests and plants at the right pace. And, with the use of newer wood-gasifying technology, wood heat can be very energy efficient and low in greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, a wood-gasifying furnace is a vast improvement over an ordinary wood stove. No, I don't have a wood-gasifyer. I was first introduced to the technology at Cobb Hill CoHousing. I visited this intentional community in Hartland, Vermont in 2006, to complete a journalism comic (which appeared in the Connecticut Valley Spectator as well as Cobb Hill's own newsletter.)

And here, I share my comic again:

My middle name is Wood because it is a family name from my mother's side, not because of any preordained affinity for fibrous plant tissue. I am not related to the cartoonist Wally Wood, or to any of the other famous people named Wood, as far as I know.

photos for this post ©2010 Susan Moyle Studlar

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