16 Degrees - Poem by Nathanael Verrill
The smell of wet, fresh split red oak carries in the cold air around me.
Thud, thud, crack, crunch!
Another piece flies away from the ax
Ready to dry, then ready for flames.
DON'T stand in one spot for too long.
Even to look at the wanning Moon, or twinkling stars or the swaying black silhouettes of the trees because its only 16 degrees. With wind chill its only one.
If you stop for more than a moment the cold sneaks in. Past the gloves, through the layers, under the hat, over the shoes. But I keep moving; keep the chainsaw moving, keep the sled rope tightly grasped in my leather gloves. Keep my lungs breathing the chilled air.
Cut, drag, haul, drag, haul, heft, split, stack.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Until finally, my body whispers softly to me, 'it's almost midnight.'
I listen, after carrying in a few loads to dry by the crackling fire. And after the last load is resting, standing on end, I peel off the gloves, turn off the headlamp, and remove my hat and then settle myself down for a... well, a few hours of work.
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