Some tasks are guaranteed to provide joy

Stacking wood is one such task

My professional days were spent, mostly, chasing needles in haystacks, and never being sure, from the outset of any given project until perhaps half-way through the contract, that the needle would be found. Sometimes it wasn’t, towards the end, and so my professional days were numbered.

Writing novels is not entirely dissimilar, I’m finding. You can do the perseverance, a thousand words day in and day out with time off on the weekends, counting out to a novel length over six months, and slowly trying to craft a story that sings, but by the end, have you, have you really got a song? More, will anybody else want to hum along?

Perhaps that’s why I love jobs that require only perseverance, sufficient good health, and a bit of ingenuity. Like stacking logs after their delivery. Stacking is one thing, but shifting the contents of two big dumpy bags into the right setting for stacking, quite another. The closest the bags could come to the woodshed was on the other side of the lovely fence, whose slats, affixed to the rails by a pneumatic nail puncher, were not susceptible to clean, temporary removal. The only thing for it was to throw the wood, piece by piece, from the bags over the fence to the waiting gravel patch.

When the bags were nearly empty, they could be dragged through the little front garden path up to the shed. But the pile of tossed logs had to be shifted again; more hoying! In the end, perhaps three quarters of the logs from each bag were handled three times before the job was done: throw 1; throw 2; stack. As a job, it took me two hours, but as I’ve learned over the years, stacking wood is something that you just have to persevere with until the last piece is in place, and the floor can be swept tidy of the small debris.

And that finish brings with it a quiet sense of accomplishment, even though the labour was more than might reasonably have been expected.

But if I had to stack wood all day, every day, I would quickly go mad!

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