Thursday, January 22, 2004

Robert Brady at Pure Land Mountain is chopping wood again:

Doing the firewood-splitting extended meditation today I was feeling how good it feels to actually be physically involved, flame-for-flame as it were, in the heating of your own home, as opposed to working 40~50 hour weeks at a desk in an office to pay an oil truck to now and then come and dump a few thousand gallons of anciently gathered nonrenewable solar energy into a very expensive oil tank to run through a very expensive central heating system at prices that will soon be skyrocketing, as we slurp up the last of what the sun laid far down in the earth hundreds of millions of years ago.

I know in my body, with my muscles, the actual cost of the heat I get, the ergonomic cost of every kilocalorie. I know how much breakfast it takes and how much energy it takes (my own and the firewood's) to heat my house for an hour or a day, and what my own muscles have done and must do to make it so. That knowledge (physical, spiritual and mental) keeps me warm on several levels.

And by respecting and fostering the source, and doing my own best to minimize general waste (which this intimacy makes patent), I am fully and directly involved in maintaining a broader aspect of my life. Who drilled your oil/gas? Where? Off the coast of California? The Alaskan wilderness? Have you ever seen an abandoned oilfield? An oil drum dump? Soon your oil/gas may be coming from Yosemite, or Yellowstone, or following more unexplained wars in the Middle East.

In any case, oil/gas is energy borrowed from the past, and one day it will all run out. If we are still around despite our depredations, what will a bit of heat cost then? Best to keep our bodies in good shape, with natural exercise, so that our children can see the worth of it. For total fluidity of movement and use of every muscle while being pleasantly productive, nothing in a gym can touch gardening or firewooding, a couple of good natural routines.

I love this too, being connected to the sources of heat that keep us warm. This winter we are heating with alder from the south part of the Island and primarily hemlock mill ends from a mill in Langley, on the continent. A lot of them bear the stamp of the now defunct CLMA, The Cariboo Lumber Manufacturer's Association. That means the wood came from the central plateau, was trucked to the Lower Mainland, sawed, kiln dried and trimmed. The trimmings were piled up on a wood lot, scooped into a large dump truck and driven to my house in October of 2002.

In carefully burning mill ends, we are using a waste product that would otherwise be allowed to decompose, get chipped or be disposed of in landfill.

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