Or, my tried & true axe. I’ve only tried two axes, mind, and both of them were today. However my sweetheart and I have been building daily fires in our wood stoves for the last four months, and certainly a decent axe is a great thing to have on hand if you’re doing that. Except that I was afraid to use one, lest I remove a limb. Today I was elated to receive a lesson on the subject of chopping wood into kindling.


My friend sharpened the axe with a stone for us. Perhaps a lesson for another day, though I looked on in fascination.


He brought us a good chopping block, showed me how to hold my small axe near the end of the handle in one hand, and let the blade fall, giving it a bit of speed, to hit the block. Then he put a piece of wood there, and said to do the same thing again, as if the piece of wood weren’t there. Crack! I split the wood, just like that. Completely thrilling and exuberant work. I must say I’m becoming rather fond of very productive-destructive projects, kneading dough, chopping vegetables, pounding sauerkraut, needle felting, pruning vines, digging in the earth. If it weren’t dark I’d go back out to the log pile and split some more.


Of course kindling is brilliant, though we’ve made due with twigs gathered from the land and a surprising amount of cardboard leftover from moving. Those work perfectly well in one of our stoves, but the other is a bit stubborn and needs coddling and persuasion, and sometimes outright begging, to produce any sort of fire. This is just the kind of persuasion it needs. I won’t be buying anyone else’s wet bag of kindling ever again, and I may have to resist turning most of our log pile into little sticks. Chop wood. A very fine skill, even if you reserve it for camping on a summer’s evening.

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