Dearest Rachel –
There’s a lot of things in which, after twenty-eight years and more, you trained me rather well. There’s the stereotypical issue of the toilet seat, for instance (which, honestly, I’m sort of the only one fighting the man’s side of the battle, as Daniel generally doesn’t even bother to stand up). I learned to call you whenever I was leaving work, to let you know when I’d be home, and ask if you need anything picked up. And I also learned not to surprise you with the odd gift here and there, although that’s probably a story in and of itself for another time.
Most of the time, however, the lessons you taught me are ones that I now need to unlearn. The dishwasher and the laundry room were your domains, and apart from my dress shirts, I was not meant to mess around with them. Of course, now that you’re gone, I really don’t have a choice if any things to get done, I’m going to have to be the one to do it. Moreover, in fact, I have to teach Daniel how to use these appliances when it’s been so long since I’ve had to do so. I don’t mind telling you, it’s something of a challenge.
And then there is the matter of wood. When I was regularly walking after I retired or much before, for that matter whenever I did, and I would see a pile of wood by somebody’s driveway, laid out for the garbage bin p.m. to pick up, it would be almost instinctive for me to grab however much I could carry, and take it home. Because, while the fireplace was your domain (like the kitchen and the laundry room), you always appreciated it whenever I could get my hands on more fuel for it.
And for my part, I preferred it that you were burning actual wood as opposed to garbage, regardless of how well garbage burns.
The thing is, I find myself still see wood by the side of the road from time to time, and I can’t help thinking “well gosh, she would really appreciate it if I would grab that and take it home.” Now, most of the time I don’t have the wherewithal to do that, as the amount that I’m seeing is far too much for me to simply pick up in my arms and drag home. Like these lovely specimens that I encountered on my way home from the “office” just the other day, right across the street from the grocery store nearest my folks:
I guess they’re a little difficult to see in the photograph, being in the shade and all. But these logs certainly have a lot of heft to them, and they would burn really well.
But that’s a lot of weight to drag (and yes, I would have to drag them – they are far too big to simply carry) a good couple of miles back home. At which point, I would have to take an ax or a chainsaw (thankfully, we have both, but still they’re a nuisance to use) and cut these babies up into a size that would actually fit our fireplace. All of which renders these considerably more trouble than they’re worth.
There’s an old saying that a man who cuts his own wood is twice warmed. But I would submit that, if he cuts it in 90° heat, that hardly counts.
And to be sure, I think you’d probably be alarmed at the amount of wood that you had stored up that Jan had me unceremoniously check into the dumpsters. But I don’t think will be using the fireplace to the same extent that you always used to. True, Daniel was trying early on to burn off some of the garbage that you had left behind rather than let it all go to waste, so in a way, he has literally picked up the torch.
But at this point of the year, it’s just not feasible or practical. Sorry about this, honey.
I’m sure there will be enough for us by winter time. But for now, we’re not going to clutter up the house again with burnables, no matter how good they look on somebody else’s lawn.