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Wood, wine and snow...

I have started this blog post three times and edited this one multiple times. In each of the posts I started, I was trying to give a ‘good enough’ reason for not having written more in the last few weeks. I was repeating myself, reiterating some of the things I have already shared in other posts. I haven’t done anything ‘news worthy’ or new or exciting lately.

Things have been pretty quiet around here for the last few weeks. It’s been an interesting cultural shift for my family - I think we have cleared more snow in the last three weeks then we have for the past 5 winter seasons combined. Not having any classes this semester has given me time to make some art, which is something I haven’t done much of for a couple of years and have missed. Our pace seems to have slowed with every inch of snow that has fallen. There’s nothing ‘quick’ about walking in snow up to your thighs, haha (but seriously).

We heat our home primarily with wood and our supply has pretty much run out. Mike has been going around the perimeter of our yard (between 1 and 2 acres) and harvesting trees that have died. Some are just plain rotten and not good for burning but for the most part, because the trees are dead and not laying on the ground, we’ve been able to cut and split enough wood to keep the fire burning since the last week of February. There is a lot of wood like that on this

property, many trees that have fallen, some are literally hanging in the air, but we can’t get to them right now. The snow is even too deep for the snowmobile we purchased with the intent to get back there and drag some of that wood back across the creek. Who knew snowmobiles can get stuck in the snow?

I am very grateful my kids don’t put up too much resistance in helping drag the wood out to the spot where the snowmobile can drag it up to the driveway. It’s a lot of work - as the saying goes, firewood warms you twice, once when you cut it and once when you burn it! It’s probably more like 6 times. When you (1) cut it, (2) drag it out of the bush, (3) split the wood, (4) stack the wood, (5) bring it into the house, (6) finally throw it in the fireplace - oh maybe (7) cleaning the ash out of the stove and taking it outside to dispose of.

You might be thinking, there’s got to be a better way. There isn’t really. There are tools that make the job easier but there is no way to burn wood without someone doing this work. Something that Mike and I have learned over the years is that everything costs you something. If we didn’t heat with wood and weren’t willing to do what has to be done to cut the wood ourselves, we would have to earn more money to pay for electric or propane heat. I can tell you we get a lot more satisfaction from harvesting our own wood then we do paying our hydro bill. A lot can be said about this, but I think what has impressed upon me the most at the moment is how I began this post with ‘not much has been going on’. That actually isn’t true. As I’ve just described, we’ve been working pretty hard, just not in a way that I had envisioned I would be at this point.

I’ve been thinking about what I would be doing if we hadn’t moved.

I started talking about “this thing that God is calling me toward” in May 2018. By 2019, I named it, The Butterfly Project. This project took a significant leap forward in 2020 where suddenly the impossible became probable. But what if we hadn’t moved? Where would we be at in this process? And is there really any point in thinking about it?

At this point, I can say with some certainty if we hadn’t moved, I would be weeks away from completing my last course towards my degree. A year ago, that was the goal. I had other things in mind such as volunteering with VCARS in Barrie and had begun connecting with other community groups who support people in crisis. Then Covid-19 entered the picture. Organizations weren’t bringing in any new volunteers, they didn’t even know what to do with the ones they had or how they were going to continue to offer their services while keeping everyone safe and healthy. It seemed like my dreams of The Butterfly Project had been squashed before it even had a chance to really get started.

So when we moved here, much of that initial disappointment was relieved and in fact was replaced with excitement for so many reasons. Some of that momentum I thought I lost was reignited and I was back in step with the pace I am so familiar with. But there was something about the pace I was going that didn’t feel right. Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Mark have been bouncing around in my head of late, “No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want the fabrics to match. And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.” (Mk 2:22 MSG) My pace didn’t match this new life we're embracing. You can’t move quickly through snow up to your thighs. Nor can you take shortcuts. The wood has to be cut to size, split and stacked somewhere dry, otherwise it simply won’t fit in the wood stove or burn very well which is just a waste all way around.

Part of the work we are doing right now is keeping our house warm while cleaning up some dead wood, matching up the fabric and looking for the cracks in our wine bottles, laying down a new foundation or perhaps restoring an old one that was destroyed 13 years ago this May. I will have more to say about that in the coming weeks, but I’ve got to go get some more wood for the fire.

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