Lest ye think that the life of a nature writer is just a big barrel of fun & games, frolicking about with butterflies, dancing and prancing with bears and bumblebees and composing beautiful little ballads for the birds, allow me, dear reader, to peel back the veil of wilderness romance and offer a glimpse into the brutal, harsh reality.
There’s a time-honored tradition here at Rancho Rostenko which I like to call “Wait until the last minute to cut firewood AGAIN, you lazy sod,” which, oddly enough, tends to coincide almost exactly with my annual ritual of grumbling “Next summer I’m gonna’ cut a little bit each week and then by fall I’ll have laid in a full winter’s supply, easy-peazy lemon squeezy” followed by the thrice-chanted blessing “And this time I REALLY mean it. Amen.” Firewood, by the way, is rather important with winter looming here at 8500 feet elevation and a woodstove as my sole source of heat.
This granddaddy Ponderosa had already succumbed long before I bought the property but still stood a tall and proud eighty feet when I got here. I tried counting the rings to determine his exact age but grew bored after seven or so, noting in the log book: “Really, really f-ing old.” And yes, that IS a Stihl 460 – “A powerful chain saw for the demanding professional” – in the background. (What I lack in professionalism I more than make up for in demanding.) I offer it as clear evidence to dispel ridiculous rumors swirling about the blogosphere that perhaps I’m not as awesome as my 160 pounds of ripped, rough and ready ubermanlyflesh and charmingly slender, delicate wrists might suggest. Anyone who’s handled the 460 knows that this ain’t yer daddy’s Home Depot Poulan Pansyweight; mere possession of this modern-day Excalibur virtually guarantees a place at the Round Table of Superhero-dom. Just thinking about the 460 is known to increase virility by anywhere from 47% to 189%. (Look it up on the internet pipes if you don’t believe me.)
For years I pondered how to bring this giant down without destroying the neighboring pine trees, given that it leaned directly towards them, always coming to the definitive conclusion “Fukkit, I’ll worry about it next year.” What might appear to the naive observer as procrastinitis was in fact a rigidly controlled scientific application of Rostenko’s First Law: “When in doubt, sit on the couch and ride it out.” I’m happy to report that Nature obliged rather generously with a windstorm that dropped Ol’ Pondy almost perfectly between the living trees last spring, a fine demonstration of Rostenko’s Second Law: “If you avoid your problems long enough they’ll go away. Or not.”
At around 3-1/2 feet diameter at the base, this monster should keep me warm all winter, assuming of course that I bother to drag the rounds back to the cabin and split them into appropriately sized chunks. I figure if I do just a little bit each day I should have a full winter’s supply laid in within a few weeks, easy-peazy lemon squeezy.
Fukkit. I’ll worry about it next month…