Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Zen and the Art of Splitting Wood

Anyone want to buy a sadly neglected Canadian Canoe?

It’s winter, and winter in the Garden City, means that from time to time, it gets bloody cold.

Not brisk, early morning cold, but bleak, windy gloomy cold.

This is on account of the fact that the city in general, and the specifically the part of it that we live in, is perched on the edge of the escarpment, exposing us to the wind from the South-west and scudding low cloud which blocks the sun if it makes any attempt to warm us.

Consequently, I’m routinely splitting timber to feed our very efficient wood heater.

It works well enough to need no other form of heating in the house, as with the winter fan in motion, warm air is blown into the upper bedrooms. This seems to keep inhabitants of these bedrooms warm and content.

And that’s always a good thing.

Over the last ten winters I’ve learnt a thing or two about splitting wood. I started badly, buying an axe, inspired by memories of my father chopping (not splitting) wood for our cooking stove pre-mains electricity in the fifties.

Like me, my dad was a chalkie, so splitting wood was not necessarily his forte, although I remember him being proficient, not swearing much, and always making sure I was at least ricochet distance removed.

So I grew up with the idea that an axe was the appropriate tool. It’s not, of course, but it took me a few winters to wake up to that.

Once using a wood splitter, and understanding the nature of the wood, the task became much easier, and almost enjoyable.

I studied Taoism once, as part of Asian History and Religion, and the understanding that you work with the wood rather than against is in line with the Taoist view of things..

You look at the grain, and split accordingly. That way, little effort is necessary, and the results are predictable. It’s all about the Zen of the wood.

Unlike this clip, There’s nobody making admiring noises when I’m at the woodheap.

Anyhow, you don’t need an axe, but a tomahawk is useful for making kindling.


Boy on a bike said...

I used to visit a friend at Goulburn - it gets bloody cold there in winter - below freezing. Spent a lot of time splitting wood. Hard work when there are a few tons to split - did it whilst it was snowing one day. Ended up working in shorts and a T-shirt I was sweating so much!!

Anonymous said...

Now you know there are two different designs in axes for the layman? One for cutting and one for splitting. Different shaped blades for different jobs. In a couple of years you should look to a hydraulic splitter.....not overly expensive and reduces your trips to the physio markedly. You aren't getting any younger Ted.

cav said...

I prefer gas

Anonymous said...

Much cleaner and someone else does the hard yards.

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