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Wood you believe it?

December 21, 2017

Two o’clock in the afternoon and the house is warm. I am not huddled by the barely turned  on electric heater wearing six layers of clothes. I am warm. It’s a Christmas miracle.

Well, not quite. Combination of factors involved.

As you may recall, back in September I had gratefully received help from two manly men, splitting and stacking wood in the shed.

09-16 wood shed

I knew this wouldn’t be enough for the winter (especially after someone told me the Arbutus would need to season for another year), but I thought I had a line on another cord of seasoned wood. That fell through. As did a number of other attempts to procure more wood. Eventually my friend Jean put me in touch with the guy on Vancouver Island who supplies her firewood. She wasn’t sure he still had any left, but figured it was worth a try. When asked, he said he could get some wood, but it wasn’t really worth it for him to come over here just to sell a cord. He wondered if I knew anyone else who might be in need or if I’d be interested in/willing to pay for two cords.

In any other year since I was impoverished by my partner’s death in 2011, I would have said, “Sorry, no. I just can’t afford it.” But this year it just so happens that, thanks to a small freelance contract from my friend Krys, I do actually have enough money to pay for two cords. So I ordered them.

Thinking about how long it would take me to stack two cords of wood, I got back in touch with manly men Paul and Joe, asking if they might be willing able to help me out. Both (bless their cotton socks) said they would. I didn’t think both cords could be squeezed into the shed, but with their help we might be able to get most of it in.

Monday morning, before the wood was due to be delivered I went down to the shed and spent a couple of hours shifting as much of the existing wood as I could into one section. Guess what? Turned out it all fit into that section! Which meant, assuming my eyes did not deceive me, that we could actually fit both new cords into the shed.

manly men

And in an hour this morning…


… we did!


The woodshed hasn’t been this full for six years. If you want your house warm all day through the winter, this is how much wood you need. If, as I have been for a few winters, you go all British, you can get through a winter of warm evenings with half this amount.

I was going to type “Dickensian” but decided on “British”, because, as Paul and I reminded one another this morning, cold houses for poor people were the norm long past the reign of Queen Victoria. It must have sounded to Joe as if we were performing a variation of the old Monty Python routine, but it was true: a gas fire in the front room and whatever heat came off the stove whilst cooking in the kitchen, no other heat in the house, waking up in the morning with a stone cold hot water bottle in the bed and ice on the single paned window, bum freezing sitting on the outside lav.

All of which is only to say any Brit who grew up before central heating became the norm finds it easier than most to convince themselves that their house isn’t that cold. Yes, you’re wearing four layers of clothing (sometimes including your coat), but that’s fine. It’s winter for god sake. It’s supposed to be cold.

So, I can look at that very full woodshed and think: Wow! Enough wood for two winters. Or I could look at it and say: Holy shit! There’s enough wood in there to be warm all winter.

God knows what the chances are of me ever being able to afford to buy two cords at a time again, thus there is much to be said for knowing I might not have to buy any wood next year. Still, however much there is to be said in favour of that scenario, it isn’t enough. A properly warm winter is an irresistible proposition, so Plan A it is. I vote warmth. I mean, I could get hit by a bus next summer, right? And think how pissed off I’d be then.

As we finished stacking the shed this morning, Paul pointed out that there was probably enough wood to keep the fire going throughout the night, too. “Steady on,” I said. “Let’s not get carried away.” You can take the girl out of the council house, but…

Thinking about that old Monty Python sketch, I’ve just decided to try to find it on YouTube. I found the original, but I also found this hilarious version, which is my Christmas present to you all.

May your holiday season be very merry and as warm as mine is going to be.


  1. krysross permalink

    All for being warm enough to write. Take it the power’s back on?

  2. Catherine stewart permalink

    Excellent decision! So glad you’ll be warm. Woohoo! And I will be too when I come in January. Good news all round.

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