I am in denial. It's still so wonderfully warm I can't quite believe it's time to bring in the firewood for the coming Winter. But all the signs are there... for weeks now our neighbours have been trundling around with trailers full of logs and all over the area you can hear the distant thunk of logs being split and stacked, and in the misty, early mornings you can definitely sense a hint of cooler things to come. With four hungry woodburners to feed (one at each cabin and two at home) it's going to be hard work. Last year, we left things a bit late and as soon as Bob had sharpened his axe, so to speak, it started raining. As a consequence our store was not as full as I'd hoped and come Spring the stack had dwindled to the last few sticks and I had started to nervously eye up chair legs and family heirlooms with a view to their potential BTU rating. This year, we were determined to be ahead of the game and have already chopped, split and stacked some substantial piles in the woods for the cabins. They say 'A man who chops his own firewood warms himself twice' and that is certainly true - it's thirsty work but oh so satisfying to see the stack building up. And stacking wood is an art in itself. The local people's woodpiles usually appear regimentally straight, neat and secure - it's obviously something the French are taught to do from an early age. Ours are a slightly more freestyle affair, with an element of danger built in.
They are home to lots of wildlife too. We disturb numerous lizards, mice and bejewelled beetles as we work our way through the pile, and recently uncovered a grumpy little grass snake, who slithered away discontentedly, as we lifted the last log. We've left some piles for the stag beetles so I'm sure he could go and live there. Maybe he'd been feasting on stag beetles! Who knows? Anway, we've now got a big, wobbly woodpile to see us through and I'm even, somewhat foolishly, looking forward to lighting the fire!