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A wood pile's healing power

Apr 11, 2017 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

It was discovered at our house during March Madness

My husband and I recently purchased 1.62 cords of wood.

We rented a UHaul van, drove it to the lumber yard, and filled it up with as many logs as it would hold.

The clerk thought we were crazy.

"What are you going to do with all that wood?" she asked.

It seemed like a silly question. We're going to burn it!

We have a fire pit in our back yard, and we don't have a television. So, instead of weekend "Netflix and chill" dates, we opt for the welcoming blaze of a bonfire. It's a winter-spring alternative to camping and backpacking - our preferred weekend activities in the summer and fall.

But we had never purchased this much wood at once, and these logs were gargantuan, like many pounds each. I had to strain to chuck each one out of the van when we deposited the load in the back yard. Then there was the project of stacking the logs into three gigantic wooden walls.

Logs that big don't burn very well, especially after they've sat out in the snow all winter. So our next purchase was a log splitter - or, as the label indicates, a "splitting maul." Awesome, reassuring, safe.

I wasn't super interested in splitting wood.

Luckily, my husband has taken a liking to it. He hefts the heavy "maul," swings it in an arc behind him, hoists it over his head and lets it come crashing down, miraculously in the center of his chosen log, which splits in an oddly satisfying way. Crack! The two pieces - formerly one solid trunk - fall to the ground, ready to burn bright and hot in the pit.

I did eventually try it, but it's not as easy as he makes it look. One false move and you could inadvertently "maul" your own leg, right? Or pummel the curious hound dog who has crept up behind you, wondering what this new activity is all about.

I think I'll need some time to get over the potential dangers before I take another swing at log splitting.

But that's OK. Cooper needs to split logs. He's a Gamecock.

That's right. My husband is a member of that sad contingent of humanity that follows University of South Carolina sports.

Usually he limits himself to football, but this year his basketball team made a big splash in the NCAA March Madness Tournament.

The men hadn't gone past the second round since 1973. But this year, they upset perennial tournament finalist Duke in that series.

They demolished the Baylor Bears in the Sweet Sixteen, then faced Florida, the team that beat out Wisconsin in a last-minute show of athleticism, in the Elite Eight.

We all know how it ended, on Saturday, April 1 - a fitting day for Carolina fans to be fooled yet again.

Why did the Gamecocks have to stage a comeback in the final minutes of the game? Couldn't they let us resign ourselves early to the loss?

But no, that's not how they do it in South Carolina. There, the fans have perpetual hope, most palpably in the months before football season begins. Once the first game of the fall has been handily lost, or shoddily won, Gamecock fans usually start thinking about next year's team, or how great those new recruits will be two seasons from now.

So, you'd think we'd have seen it coming last weekend. Instead, we bit our nails and pulled out our hair until the final buzzer sounded, with Carolina down by 4. Not an embarrassment by any means, and hey, we made it to the Final Four! But again - we didn't win. We never win, not in the end.

Without a word, Cooper stood up from his chair and began the long, slow walk to the fire pit, where his trusty new friend, the splitting maul, was waiting for him.

I think that thing will come in handy in the fall.


An aside: We watched the South Carolina women claim victory in their own national championship game last Sunday. What a team! What a journey! What little solace for a Gamecock fan on Saturday...

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