Free Firewood ~ haibun

Free Firewood

Two days before we traveled to my daughter’s wedding, a tree came down in our yard. It was a fifty foot hickory that was dead when we bought the house in 2013, and it was struck by lightning in 2014. The top of it hit the top edge of the chimney, at the side of the house, leaving fifteen feet of broken wood at the foundation. The chimney is fine. The tree continued down, resting in the fork of a redbud tree and splitting it three feet to the ground. We’ve had a lot of recent rain, softening the ground on the slope where the hickory stood. The roots were rotted to pulp and broke off as the tree fell.

I couldn’t leave it like that while traveling, so I spent the next day cutting up the pieces on the ground and cutting twelve feet off the top end of the tree. I cut the redbud into firewood and cut its branches into four foot lengths, leaving them in three large piles at the side of my garden.

When we returned, I spent a day cutting the rest of the hickory into firewood. It was so choked with English ivy that I spent more than an hour lopping that off before taking the chainsaw to the tree. The pile of ivy, some of it an inch-and-a-half thick, was as high as any of the three piles of redbud branches. I now have more than a cord of hickory firewood, with a fireplace that I converted to natural gas.

Last month ended up being tied for the hottest September on record for mid-Missouri, so I wasn’t too anxious to clear out those tree branches. We had a break in the weather today – overcast and 65º – so I spent the morning lopping the redbud branches and ivy into two foot lengths, then taking them to our city’s yard waste site, a mile away – five trips in my station wagon. The site won’t take anything larger than six inches in diameter, so now I have to find a neighbor who needs firewood.

ivy clings to tree
draining life from hickory
warm glow of fireplace

Colleen’s 2019 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge
No. 147, #Poet’sChoice

22 thoughts on “Free Firewood ~ haibun

      • I moved into this place at the end of 2011. There are two redbud trees in the front yard. Such pretty trees year-round. I’m not burning wood this year. If I had a dependable source of good wood I might, but that source unfortunately fizzled when the father turned it over to his son. I’m thinking of trying the wood pellets, but it means buying a new stove. I might just try solely electric heat this year and see what it costs. I have at least a few dead trees on the property. Still haven’t gotten the ones blocking my path out back taken care of. My handyman from last summer is too wrapped up in selling his house in town and moving up north. Dead trees are an important part of the ecosystem for the critters so if they lay there that’s ok.

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        • I know our lot could be smaller, but it’s just 1/4 acre, yet it has about 40 trees on the wedge shape at the end of a cul-de-sac. Another 3 or 4 trees are dead, but with the tree density in that area, and far from any buildings, I’m not worried about any structural damage.

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    • Those are nice, but the bugs around here are terrible. I spend very little time in the yard, unless I use bug spray, and I hate spraying or rubbing anything on my skin. My one sacrifice is sunscreen when I kayak.


      • I have read that trees and people have equivalent life spans (on the whole, at my previous house an oak was cut down that the arborist estimated was 180 years old). Another thing that makes me feel a bond with trees. Hickory wood is in demand here in PA for woodworkers, maybe someone would see it the same way where you are?

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        • I’ve already cut this into short lengths, but hickory is pretty common here. And, the lightning strike left a two-inch wide rip in the bark, for the whole length. Once I cut it with the chainsaw, I could see a crack/split running to the center of every piece.

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        • My grandfather was a woodworker and hickory was a favorite wood of his. I have hickory cabinets in my kitchen in this house – when we redid the room I was influenced by seeing his work. I guess I am a fan of the wood. As for the split, very interesting to think you can touch the very scar a lightning bolt left behind. Somehow that really intrigues me.

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