Woodland Workout

by Curt Kovener

Saturday was a good day in the wilderness.
At least if the soreness and aches of muscles accustomed to the dormancy of winter are an indicator it was a productive day.
Mother Nature has not been kind to her forest over the winter. Several trees have been blown over; some that blocked the lane were immediately cut up to allow passage, others were left to be made into firewood or lumber another day.
Anyone who denies the evidence of changing weather patterns owing to all of the pollution we belch into the atmosphere is welcome to come work with me for a weekend.
I started out with the tractor carrying chainsaw equipment. I chose the tractor and the front end loader just in case I needed to do some lifting or tugging of downed or semi-downed trees. But as good fortune would have it the tractor’s brute strength was not needed.
As I busied myself with converting fallen trees into firewood, Charley busied himself with exploring the rustic countryside.
And he was successful…by his standards…as he returned to my work area with a leg bone from a deer apparently shot but unfound and unclaimed except by nature and Charley.
Despite my protestations, Charley was content to lay and gnaw as I continued my firewood making.
Seasoned wood splits easier than green wood. And the wilderness maul was put through its paces on chunks cut and stacked along the lane. I have my Dad’s old hydraulic wood splitter, but it is more pleasant to not listen to the constant noise of a gasoline engine. And the additional exercise of splitting wood by hand is an added benefit. As the old adage correctly claims “He who cuts his own wood is twice warmed.”
The work in the woods allowed me to make some observations. Green briar and multiflora rose are the first to leaf out and their curved prickly briars remain sharp all winter long as evidence by my scratched arms and legs. Some early spring wildflowers such as violets and spring beauties are starting to bloom. The early blooming serviceberry is getting ready to burst open its fragrant white blooms.
By day’s end I had nearly three quarters of the woodshed wall covered. Not nearly enough for next winter’s warmth but a decent early spring start.
After I put all the motorized equipment up, I began noticing those unused muscles in my back and knees letting me know they were still around and did not appreciate the sunny day workout.
Not being one who routinely pops pain pills, I opted for a early season mint julep. Though I admit that the four sprigs of mint with leaves the size of squirrel’s ears, my calming pain numbing beverage was more julep than it was mint.
A worn out Charley and I retired to the back deck where I sat in the glider, enjoyed my beverage and contemplated the day’ activities.