Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tim's Wood

Trombley Hill Road is my address, but few Trombleys live here now. Tim sold me the family farmhouse and two acres, then moved down the hill to a new house. But as time moved one, heating bills and healthcare for his wife took their toll, and Tim sold that house, too. Tim’s sister was the realtor, but she lives somewhere else, so now there is only the other sister who lives across the fields. It is sad to see families leave Vermont home places, but younger generations can’t handle the ongoing investment in dairy cows and maple groves.

Tim left me a stack of wood in the basement. The furnace burns either oil or wood, but for the first couple of years I lived here I was intimidated by the wood burning furnace. Then one cold weekend, I built a fire and I was warm for the first time that winter. Now I build fires every weekend, as much to save on the cost of heating oil as to be really, toasty warm. When you run on oil, you see, you set the thermostat at a barely tolerable level, but when you burn wood, you don’t have such fine control, and the house is filled with jagged, blessed warmth.

When Tim sold me the house, he left me a stack of wood in the cellar. He left me a living room with fourteen-inch maple floorboards, harvested and shaped from the maples on the family farm. I feel a connection to those trees that I, personally, have never known. I feel responsible to them.

It is cold this week. A record-breaking blizzard has dumped two and a half to three feet of snow on us, followed by howling winds and single digit temparatures. A good time to build a fire in the wood furnace. I started yesterday morning, feeding the fire every hour all day. This morning I was thrilled to see that the coals had lasted through the night, and all I had to do was add one more log to the coals.

Tim’s logs are big logs, far bigger than the ones that were delivered as firewood this fall. I have to believe that they came from the maple grove up the hill. These logs are rough cut, hunky, and well aged. Someone cut them years ago, thinking that they would keep someone warm. Probably someone named Trombley, but certainly someone who lived nearby, watching the maples through the seasons.

I am fortunate to be that someone.


Dan said...


This is such a lovely post, the way it explores the land, the trees, and their connection in a personal way to your warmth. No philosophy, just the gratitude to whoever cut the logs for you. I feel the scene and am warmed with you.


Anonymous said...

It's deeply satisfying to handle firewood and prepare for the cold. I've just prepared for winter in New Zealand. While it's not as cold as Vermont, the wood burner is still a necessity!