Leaving the warmth and bright lights of the house behind, we stepped out into the cold, clear monochrome of moonlight and black shadows. The frigid air seemed to sear the inside of my nose as I took a breath. Releasing it back into the night, it hit the air, bursting into a cloud of minute crystals of ice.
My two faithful companions, one in front and one behind, marched me briskly up the road, snow crunching rhythmically under foot. Ducking my face behind my scarf, I peered out at the full moon's bright blue-white light sparkling with breathtaking iridescence as it washed over the freshly fallen snow.
The streets were even quieter than usual. After snowing all day, the roads were plowed but still covered with crusty remains, compressed into granulated ice. As the dogs and I made our way between the plowed piles of freshly fallen snow, I was deeply preoccupied.
For me, there is little to make winter's onslaught bearable when the first cruel, cool winds drive us indoors for the next 4 or 5 months. A fire in the fireplace is the only way to cheer me up . Although we don't rely on wood to heat our house, we are heavily reliant on it for emotional support. A warm crackling fire fills the room with comfort and contentment far beyond any physical explanation.
That winter we didn't just have a fire once in a while. In fact we had been burning non-stop for weeks, going through outrageous amounts of wood, but, unlike so many other things in this world, firewood does grow on trees. We hadn't bought chord wood in years. We could never have afforded to pay for the amount of wood we had used that year. The cost would have been wildly exorbitant.
Gary had a chainsaw and a pick-up. I split the logs by hand with a sledgehammer. I'm about 5'2", 115 lbs, and not real young, but, odd though it sounds, I enjoy splitting firewood. None the less, keeping the shed stocked with aged dry wood was a battle: finding downed trees accessible to the road, cutting, loading, unloading, and stacking it in the shed to be dried and split, was an on-going process. In fact, burning 24/7 was like having a part-time job. We had to be constantly keeping up with it, or the supply line would grind to a halt.
According to forecasts, the worst of winter was coming in next week with serious sub-zero temperatures. Having had this constant source of warmth and comfort as soon as the thermostat read below 40 degrees, made the thought of letting the fire go out at this point, utterly unthinkable.
But snow was a problem. We had been out scavenging during the early part of the day, despite two feet of snow already on the ground from the night before and more still falling out of the sky like the heavens were tearing the clouds into little pieces and furiously hurling them down at us .
I directed Gare to a tree leaning up against a stonewall, that would still be discernable under the cover of whiteness. Gary pulled the truck off the road. Pushing open the passenger door I stepped off the running board, plunging down till I was thigh deep in snow. Grabbing the chainsaw, Gary struggled over the stonewall, clearing off the part of the tree protruding into the air, he started lopping off large chunks. I floundered over and, grabbing hold of a log, half pushed half rolled it towards the truck.
At one point a woman driving by and seeing the truck sunk up to its axels, stopped and asked if we were stuck. She might have been more than a little surprised to find out that we were out there, voluntarily, moving 80 pound chunks of wood around in two feet of snow in the middle of a blizzard. But we did manage to get the tree loaded and made it back to the house.
All afternoon the storm pounded the entire northeast coastline. I kept looking at Gary. He'd give me a calm, cheerful smile. Usually it's fun when the snow is coming down like gangbusters and you're in a nice warm house with the fire roaring away. But as it continued to pile higher and higher on every available surface, all I could think was that it was burying all hope of us being able to find any wood for weeks to come, right at the coldest part of winter!
I found Gary's calm demeanor mysterious and inexplicable. I managed to keep my mouth shut, but inside I was totally bumming out.
The next few days, we continued to burn constantly, rapidly depleting our supply. After splitting the last of the tree we had unburied during the storm, I sat with Gary in front of the fire having lunch.
"I split the last of the wood this morning." I said flatly, thinking my words would finally penetrate Gary's delusion that everything was just fine.
"Oh yeah?' he responded calmly,
"Yeah...and considering what it was like getting the last load, there's no way we're going to be able find any more."
"How long is what we have left going to last us?"
"Maybe two or three days. Maybe till Tuesday." According to the forecast, that meant we were going to be without a fire at the very deepest, coldest part of winter. Although I was misery and I was looking for company, that isn't what a got.
"I should probably give Rob a call." he said.
Rob was a an old high school buddy of Gary's that had a tree clearing business. Rob and Gary weren't real close, but they had kept in touch through the years and were on good terms. Still, you never really knew how helpful Rob would be. He could be the nicest guy in the world. But people would take all kind of advantage, and eventually he would flip out. In true bi-polar fashion, it was no more Mr. Nice Guy.
And after all, he doessell firewood. He was more than likely to just offer to sell us some. That was not what Gary had in mind. There was often scrap around the yard. Gary wanted to go there and help himself to whatever he could find. I pointed out that, even if Rob was in a good mood, even if he didn't want to make a sale, any scrap was going to be buried under mountains of snow like everything else.
Gary just shrugged, "We'll see what he says."
When he called Rob, I listened anxiously to one side of the conversation.
"Rob! It's Gary, how's it going?"
"Oh--no kidding, Mexico? Nice!"
My heart sunk. Things did not sound optimistic, despite Gary's up beat enthusiasm. I knew no matter how desperately we needed him to help us out, Gary would never let on.
"Wow, that's awesome." Gary said continuing to sound irritatingly enthusiastic.
"Yeah, it's been pretty gnarly around here, as I'm sure you've heard. Hey, I was just looking to get a hold of some firewood..."
There was a long pause during which Gary appeared oblivious to my questioning stare.
Eventually the conversation ended with him telling Rob he would call him again when he got back.
After he hung up, Gary continued to mess with his phone without looking up. I sat across from him frustrated by his silence, wanting to know, but not wanting to ask because it didn't sound good.
Eventually he glanced up and saw me staring expectantly at him.
"Oh sorry" he said, putting his phone in his pocket. "Rob's in Mexico, I caught him at the airport. He's just about to board the plane home."
"Really? He's heading back?"
"Yeah, he's getting in tomorrow."
"That's cool." I said, encourage. "And there's something down at the property we can grab?"
"Well, that he didn't know. He had a guy working in the yard all week, but he has no idea what he's been doing. He said to call him tomorrow."
When Gary caught up with Rob two days later. We were down to only a one day supply left in the wood shed. I couldn't believe that we were this low, with no other options, but as it turned out, everything was just perfect. If Gary had called any sooner, it would have done no good. A week ago Rob would not, in any likelihood, have been nearly that willing to help. He would be leaving for Mexico, and that would be all that was on his mind. As it turned out, he couldn't have caught Rob in a better mood...or at a better time! While Rob had been in Mexico, the guy he had left working had decided to clean up the entire yard. He had stacked all the scrap wood in one pile that was about the size of a two story building! Gary was welcome to come and take whatever he wanted.
For the next few weeks, Gary would leave with an empty truck and his chainsaw and return with his truck loaded down with plenty of seasoned wood.
While they were talking, Rob said that there was such a demand for firewood that winter, no one in the area had any aged wood left. For the last month and a half, he had been selling chords of fresh wood.
And there we were, having burned copious amounts of aged wood over the last four months for free, and now we were set for the rest of the winter.
But somewhere around Gary's fifth truck load, Rob hooked up with a guy that ground the rest of the two story pile down to chips.
That's what I call perfect timing. Despite my doubts, despite my fears, despite the fact that the pieces that came together were well beyond our control or even our imagination, the Universe worked it out without any help from me. The reason I shared this story is that it's an example of a dynamic that's been playing out in our lives for the better part of a decade now, maybe much longer.
I know it's not something huge, though it was pretty huge to me. It's not so much about winning the lottery or getting everything you think you want or need. It's a matter of trusting in fate rather than trying to be the one who's calling the shots. But what if life stopped being so random and unreliable? What if every time you had a problem, the Universe came through with a solution?
If you follow me, you will receive future posts in your feed absolutely free of charge and with no financial obligation. I will reveal the paths we have taken and the mysteries we've uncovered to synchronize our lives with cycles and rhythms underlying an ever changing Universe.
And, although there is no obligation, I think that might well be worth an upvote.
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