We don’t have a furnace, but we do have an amish-made wood cookstove that burns about five cords of wood every winter. Over the last few years, thirteen-year-old Jack has increasingly enjoyed the triple-warming feature of our chosen heat source.
As Jack’s body has grown, so has his part in the stacking, hauling, and burning. Some years he even takes on the lion’s share of the stacking in hopes of earning some cash. Even the small income, however, has not taught him to appreciate the woodpile.
Monday we each had a day off. I decided to lend him a hand. After lunch, we each donned work gloves and earbud and started ferrying logs to the woodshed.
It was quiet work. Each of us was listening to music, but, as Jack has grown taller, he has also become more introspective. Spontaneous utterances are rare. He meets most of my queries these days with monosyllabic answers.
As the first cord formed in the shed, however, Jack volunteered the remark on the increase in speed when there were two stacking. I concurred, adding that it was almost pleasant when you got moving. Jack retreated to silence again. I asked what music he was listening to, extracting an answer after repeating the questions several ways.
I entertain no illusions about my hipness as a mother (only my fitness as one), and I was glad just to know a little about Jack’s evolving music tastes. In the next hour we would chat about his English grade, the computer he’s been working toward over the last year, and his favorite video game. In the end, the wood stacking warmed each of us, but in completely different ways. For Jack, it was still just a chore. For me, it was one more thing in my life that reminding me to feel thankful.