Getting Firewood

The crazy thing about hoarfrost is, have you ever seen pimpfrost? You know it must be lurking somewhere, but when does it ever make itself apparent? Answering this question could require a joint operation between the National Weather Service and the FBI. 

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My dad once filled out a form that asked his occupation, and he wrote “procurer.” I was about twelve at the time. I asked what a procurer was. He said, “Pimp.” It was just his way of telling them, “None of your business.” 

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I’m in the process of procuring enough wood to burn in our fireplace this winter. I took the second-row seats out of the minivan and drove thirteen miles to Farmer Gansworth’s, near Bridgewater. At the end of his driveway, right along the road’s edge, there’s a cart loaded with wood, and that’s how you know he’s in the business. The sign says $60.

Yesterday I caught him just as he and his little brown dog were coming out of the house and getting into the pickup. I insisted that it wasn’t necessary for him to stay and help me load, but like any good proprietor, he guided me to the selection of several cords before his barn. He carried along a cupcake that he had brought out of the house because, if he had left it on the dashboard, his dog would have eaten it. Farmer Gansford had his knee replaced last winter but is getting along well and says the surgery was a good thing. He’s a white-haired fellow in his sixties, quiet-spoken and amiable, with an obvious wryness. Hearing me say I hadn’t approached any closer right away because I didn’t want to go over his grass, he snorted and said not to worry about the grass.

I got into the minivan and backed up to the first pallet. “Is it mostly ash again?” I asked. 

“This one has some fruitwood,” he said.


“Yeah, that berry tree.” He held up a chunk of a heavy dark-tinged wood. I don’t know if he’s referring to black cherry or what, but I might get bored if I burned nothing but ash, which is currently so plentiful because beetles have bored beneath the bark and killed just about every ash tree. Ash is superb in the hearth, rather as Scarlett Johansson must be in the boudoir. (We watched “The Nanny Diaries” later last evening on DVD, and I entertained carnal thoughts.) Other of Farmer Gansmere’s pallets to the rear exclusively held cords of ash, but fruitwood will add variety. 

He drove off to wherever he was going. My dog, Molly, was free to get out and chase chickens while I loaded up, but she chose to stay on the front seat and play loadmaster. I first inserted wood through the side door and tried to stack as much as possible right against the backs of the front seat as a way of keeping weight well distributed. (A polypropylene tarp protected the carpeted floor and vinyl seatbacks.) Filling the middle part of the ship, I moved rearward and stacked the rest. Enough room remained for another cord, which will be required, but the minivan already squatted under the weight of one. I’ll have to return over the coming weekend. 

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Happy Haunting to you and your ghosties,” writes Kerry. Trick-or-treaters will arrive at the door in about four hours. It’s gorgeous today with an absolute blue sky and gentle breeze, a mild evening certain. 


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