Zen and the Art of Firewood
Posted November 22, 2021 in Special Features
“Winter is coming!” It’s time to hunker down to a nice, cozy fire. In our rural home, we have an energy-efficient wood stove for supplemental heat, and to enjoy the ambiance of a fire on a cold winter night.
When we don’t have time to cut our own, we typically order seasoned wood and have it delivered. Some companies will stack for an extra charge, but we like to do it ourselves. Firewood delivered by dump truck, however, ends up in a large, jumbled pile in the yard. So… there you are – now you need to move and organize this mess. Where to start?
STACKING WOOD AS A PUZZLE CHALLENGE
At first, the job can be overwhelming. It feels like a repetitive and boring task ahead of you. With the right mindset, it can become a great physical and mental challenge.
Stacking firewood is basically solving a geometrics problem: how do you fit those random-sized pieces together to form a solid, stable structure?
Whether stacking in a woodshed, or between posts, start with the half-circle pieces. Lay them flat-side down to build the base. Add more levels, keeping it as flat as possible, using the best combination of angles and shapes for a level surface. It won’t be perfect, but this is where the mental acuity kicks in. You will start to see patterns and combinations that work best. Your brain quickly assesses even irregular pieces to place them in the right spot. It’s like playing a physical game of Tetris as you build each level.
MOVEMENT AND MEDITATION
Once you settle into that rhythm, let your brain switch to auto-drive as you slip into the meditation of the moment: moving, measuring, solving, then moving again. The physical activity stimulates blood flow and endorphins to the brain. Eventually, your thoughts will focus on the activity at hand. Take your time. This is a great way to spend a cool, crisp winter day – exercising your body on the outside and your mind on the inside. Soon, you’re done before you know it.
You now have the gratification of a nice stack of wood, a physical workout, and a refreshing, mindful meditation.
There is an expression “Firewood warms you three times – cutting, stacking and burning.” Now you can add a fourth dimension – it also warms your brain!
Now go inside, relax, and enjoy a nice warm fire. You’ve earned it.