What connects us and makes us resilient in the face of collapse, are the things you cannot ordinarily measure or see. Charlotte Du CannA year ago I felled a dead elm and sawed much of the first two trunks into logs by hand. These logs burned okay, but everyone said splitting the wood was better. Yesterday I split wood for the first time.
So here I am in heroic mode, spltting the wood. I did a pretty good job, was surprised it came so easily and felt very satisfied at the end.
But no one is a hero in isolation, not even a humble woodsplitting one. In fact, I think the whole hero thing reflects the hyper-individualism of our culture.
And there is always what you don’t see in the picture. And not just the photographer. In this picture you also don’t see Nick who lent me the maul you don’t see (very well) either. Nick helped me cut down the last of the dead elm trunks last year and sawed it into logs. Charlotte sawed another dead elm by hand on her own whilst I was out a couple of weeks ago, so even I didn’t see that.
Also remaining unseen are the people and the materials that made the maul, and all the actions and connections that led to our being here and to Nick coming over on Wednesday on his way to drop his daughter off at her boyfriend’s nearby.
All those transition meetings in Bungay and Norwich and skill shares and learning about global markets and industrialisation and wanting to be less dependent on them and get to know people and places closer to home. Wanting to chop firewood with my own hands, to work with the grain, the material.
And all the conversations over the years I was listening to without even knowing I was listening to them, about how to let the woodsplitting axe fall by its own weight and how to stand properly and not twist your back.
In fact a thousand words wouldn’t be enough for all the connections making up what lies behind and beneath this simple photo.
Or indeed this one. I don’t celebrate Christmas. This year, however, we found a broken bough of pine in the local wood and brought it home for the living room. On Christmas night something got into me and I cut into strips the gold paper Dano had given me at Sustainable Bungay’s Solstice/Christmas party and tied chillis to the bottom of them reusing ties from plants that had died down. The chillis were a gift from Malcolm and Eileen where we get our weekly veg box, a mix of the formidable Ring of Fire and the fragrant serrano.
We’re taking down the bough and chilli decorations tomorrow and so I wanted to share it here.
Though this piece is mostly about some of the things we don’t see.
Photographer unseen, Splitting wood for the first time 4 Jan 2013, by Charlotte Du Cann; Chilli, gold paper, use garden tie decoration on salvaged pine bough from nearby wood (MW)
This post originally appeared on the blog Mark in Flowers on 5th January 2013