Within Our Grasp – Learning To Live With What We Have

Photograph by Fred First

We are coming to the end of many familiar and comfortable ways of life in the next few months, and the beginnings of the new we cannot fully know. For everything you get, you give up something else.

I am advising myself to not lament what is lost, but celebrate and anticipate what can be gained and appreciated on the other side of this move away from all that is familiar.

When we are assimilated into the borg (our future apartment life in a retirement village or elder reservation as I call it) my fifty-year wood burning history will have come to an end. Today’s late-March fire in the outdoor furnace will most likely be the last sustained fire that ever warms me twice.

Standing dead wood that I have found in our forest; wood whose heft and texture, form and distinctive sweet and sour smell I have known so well and so fondly; wood that I have cut, split, stacked and seen and felt through the glass door of our wood stove—the elements of this liturgy have had benefits far more than BTUs of heat they have provided.

I think back to our first wood stove in 1975. The wood-centered lifestyle over the decades has taught me much. A few of these lessons almost killed me. I have the scars to prove it.

Paul and Paula Bunyan and a tiny wood nymph we found. Notice the high tech wood-harvesting tools. We made it work. Circa 1976

Once, a cherry snag bounced back and took me down. I learned on that occasion that I should no longer be felling trees big enough to do me in. Not long after, I decided I would buy wood already cut into stove lengths and properly close to the ground.

Photograph by Fred First

The most immediate lesson from the year of the painful cherry smack-down was for future wood to be nothing but “sissy wood.” I told that story on myself in a 3-minute radio essay so near to the event that I remember limping a bit on the short walk from the parking lot into the WVTF studio in Roanoke in 2007.

🎤 Floyd County Lessons from the Woodlot Audio file, turn up speakers. 🎤

The shock of that experience lead me to consider “enough” so that we would find sufficiency in what we already have.

A year from now, we will have left behind the what, where and who that has given life meaning in rural Virginia. I have hope and trust that other people, places and comforts will fill in the empty spaces.

We will live thankfully with what we are given. We will have enough.

These two blog posts formed the basis for the radio essay, if you must know more or would rather read than listen.

Goose Creek Darwin Award Winner Announced

One Floyd Countian’s Woodlot in Life Turns Out to Be Enough

– Fred First is an author, naturalist, photographer watching Nature under siege since the first Earth Day. Cautiously hopeful. Writing to think it through. Thanks for joining me. Subscribe to My Substack HERE

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