Friday, February 5, 2010

Happiness Is a Warm Log

The places you live end up changing you. There was a time when my day was defined by navigating city traffic, either on my bike or via the myriad metro rails of our nation's capitol. I frequented dive bars and coffee shops and had the "Washington Post" delivered. I visited art galleries and museums with a fair degree of regularity. I had a French lesson every Tuesday night with a friend from Ivory Coast at a hipster bar. I wore lots of jersey knit fabrics. I worked at Urban Outfitters, Whole Foods, and several Mom & Pop natural food stores. In short, I was a city slicker, an urban maven, a metro minx.

While I'm only 20 minutes from downtown Asheville, my time is now largely spent writing on my laptop, tossing scratch to my chickens, making my own butter, and stoking my wood stove. Finding myself at home for 4-5 days at a stretch without leaving the property is a common thing. Sure, I still meet up with friends for cocktails, attend experimental music performances, and grab a cappuccino at one of Asheville's many fine coffee shops, but I'm much more likely to be found reading a homesteading book, starting seeds for my spring garden, baking a batch of poundcake cupcakes with brown butter frosting (make. them. now.), or having a beer surrounded by one husband, two dogs, and five cats.

I'm also much more likely to get excited by things like well-seasoned, properly split firewood, cut to the right length and delivered in measurements reflecting an actual full cord. We've been plagued by bad firewood deliveries, for years. I'm not prone to hyperbole; that's an absolute fact. The firewood we've had brought to us has been poorly cut, overly moist, terribly long, and woefully short of its advertised measurements. Until now. A well-written ad on Craigslist had me at "True Stacked Cords-128 cubic feet-delivered in a trailer."

Words like that call to me like a lighthouse in the fog. In my previous life, it might have been a cute pair of strappy shoes, or a fashionable handbag. Now, it's firewood. Firewood so well cured that it ignites as soon as I set it on top of coals. Firewood that burns steadily, furiously, all night long. Firewood that I'm happy to schlep, haul, stack, or otherwise toil over.

Like I said, the places you live end up changing you. I've been converted by firewood. Happiness, to me, is a warm log.

*Asheville/WNC folks: If you'd like to revel in firewood awesomeness too, hit up Dustin Ford. His business is "Woodstock Firewood" and he can be reached at 828/400-8684. His mom, Sandy, takes the calls. Just tell 'em I sent you.

17 comments:

gloria said...

I slept like a log and woke up in the fireplace! Love your post. As a woman without a man around to sort out things like firewood, knowing the most efficient way of splitting logs has become a bit of a thing for me. I can only dream of a well stocked pile of well seasoned wood.

tigress said...

this was a joy to read this morning. first because i so relate to all you've said ashley. and second because gloria just said she slept like a log and woke up in the fireplace. ha! :)

EcoGrrl said...

i've been sitting here, toeing the line between my city mouse and country mouse mentalities, and reading this it is good to see a city mouse digging on the country mouse life, so if it ever comes my way i have a proper consultant. sitting on that fence still, trippin'.

Renai said...

The first little bit of this post gave me warm fuzzies like nothing else. That is basically my life right now (a few things interchanged) and it's hard to invision such a drastic change... although it's all I really want. Wonderful to know!

nicole said...

such a delightful post ... and not just because of the charming writing. i have been fortunate enough to be witness to some of your changes over the years, and i must say they're been beautiful.

Celia said...

I want so many things in life....two of which are chickens and a fireplace or wood burning stove. Your blog is one that I can live my dreams through.

Anonymous said...

It sounds so cozy!

kmaxjava said...

Our lives are proof that reincarnation exists. The mistake is in thinking one must die between lives. :-)

Kathy

Paige Appel said...

I love this post.

Sarah said...

YOU were in my dream last night, though we've never met in person, we were doing yoga together. weird huh?

[i used to hate stacking firewood when i was a kid. wouldn't mind doing it today though.]

Iryna said...

So how did the transformation happen from urban to rural life? Some days, I think that all I want is to live somewhere in the woods, one on one with nature. Other days, I feel like I really need my art gallery and espresso fix.

I am so inspired by your beautiful writing - you are a queen of alliteration! :)

ashley english said...

sarah-i'll gladly join you in tree pose or upward dog, anytime.

iryna-it happened slowly, over time. first there was the city, then the burbs surrounding the city, then the country (and the husband already living in the city-that expedited the whole thing!). now, i'm ready to move to an island in the puget sound, even more remote and accessible only by ferry.

mind you, i need my respites, my city forays almost as much as i need my solace and retreat. i like taking little excursions, and then nooking myself back into my quiet world. thanks for your comments. truly appreciated.

sk said...

What a nice post! I am envious of your cozy life!

Kristin Marsh said...

You totally have my dream life!

Shantara said...

We just had our first load of firewood delivered today. Don't know if it's an actual cord or not, but it's wood, and it seems dry. It didn't want to burn though, might have had something to do with the draft coming down the chimney blowing the flame out. We used up all the kindling. Have any pictures of that good wood you got? This is all very new to us.

ashley english said...

Shantara-the wood shown in the hoop is the wood we had delivered (plus a lot more out of sight). It's locust, which is mildly yellow in color when properly cured. Other woods will be different colors, like red oak. Locust is great wood, if you can find it, as it burns particularly hot, if cured.
If you need extra help in getting your wood to ignite, pick up some sawdust starter pellets from either the grocery store or a home supply store. There's also a natural liquid fire starter called "Bright Light" that works great and isn't petroleum derived/based.

ROC said...

Time in front of the woodstove, especially tonight. Love this post.