Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Best of All Worlds

The last few weekends were spent working wood for our winter heat.  We had some delivered by a local firewood purveyor.  Some was from coppiced wood that a local tree firm had cut and gave to us last year, because they didn't have anywhere to dispose of it.  It was in varying lengths and widths, and our task was to cut it to length and then split and stack it.  I have a new chainsaw I got to try out.

My daughter has really taken to doing firewood this year.  A couple of summers ago, when were were out at my father-in-law's property cutting wood, she learned to use the gas powered splitter.  We don't have a gas powered splitter here.  Buying one is expensive, especially considering we can borrow the in-law's splitter, but also, we just don't have a place to store it. 

We do have a manual splitter and a maul.  She's learning to use both.

I looked over at her today splitting wood barefooted and thought. "What a suburban-kid thing to do!", and immediately ran inside to grab my phone to get a picture - which is a quintessentially suburban mom thing to do, I think. 

Sometimes, I think it's funny that my kids have learned all of the skills that they've learned.  Knowing how to heat a house with wood is just one of the many skills we've forced them to know, because, for us, these skills teach them to do things for themselves.  They can stay warm.  They can eat.  They can survive - in the best of times and in the worst of times.

The reality of our lives is that we live in the suburbs.  Our daughters have lived this balance between going to the mall to hang out with their friends and having to do things, like keeping the woodstove going during the winter and collecting the eggs from the backyard chickens.

They've been given the opportunity to enjoy the best of being an urban kid (trips to see Broadway shows, eating at artisan restaurants, enjoying a latte from a real coffee shop, shopping for books in dusty antique bookstores) and the best of being a farm kid (fluffy baby animals in the backyard, a healthy garden, county fairs, meaningful work).

Many writers speak of the suburbs as a failed experiment and as the "worst allocation of resources in history."  I don't, necessarily, agree.

For my family, I think it's the best of both worlds.  My daughters have been given this amazing opportunity to work hard doing work that has meaning (stacking wood is not easy, but it's absolutely necessary if we hope to stay warm this winter), but they've also had the chance to live like a normal suburban teenager.

Today, we were working wood, and as Precious split a log, she looked at Little Fire Faery, who was stacking the wood in neat rows against the fence, and asked, "Hey, do you want to go the mall later?"

And that's our life.  Stack wood in the morning.  Go to the mall in the afternoon.  Eat a home-cooked meal (slow-cooked roast, mashed potatoes, sweet corn from a local farmer, and baked caramel apples) in the evening.

Good work.  Good fun.  Good food.

It's a good life here in the suburbs.

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