A good life is one where you leave the woodpile a little higher than you found it.
That’s all most of us are trying to do, whether we realize it or not.
In my neck of the Northern Minnesota woods, woodpiles are important things. They give you a way to roast your s’mores and heat your home. There’s nothing better than a summer evening with friends and cold beverages over a camp fire. If you do it right, you’re going to get plenty of awesome, sweaty exercise building your woodpile while chopping and sawing (yes, mom, I’ll be careful!). And just for kicks, I get some personal satisfaction when I can bribe my 10-year-old nephew into helping me stack it up! Aren’t woodpiles great?
THE CYCLE OF WOODPILE BUILDING
For most camps or houses around here, you don’t walk in and find an empty wood box. There is always some wood stacked up, ready to go. Someone before you has filled the wood box, or the shed, or just left a couple sticks in the corner. On a cold day when you really need that fire, you do a little happy dance, say a silent prayer or two, and go about rubbing sticks together (or however you prefer to start your fire).
If you live in wood burning country, you know that you can’t just use up the wood and leave. The next person to rent the cabin, play in the yard, or own the house may need to start a fire – sometimes in dire circumstances. Just as you got a start from whatever the person before you left, you have to leave something for the next person. You never know, it might even be you next season!
In fact, just to ensure the ability to weather any storm, you better leave the woodpile a little higher than you found it. After all, you never know what the next person might need, and it’s really not that hard to cut an extra log or two while you’re sawing, is it?
PILING OUR COMMUNITY STRENGTH HIGHER
Each of us has a relationship with our community that is quite a bit like that woodpile. Some people show up with a gigantic shed full of split logs that look like a supportive family, safe neighborhoods, a productive education system, and good health. Some folks may get a smaller stack of unsplit oak outside the door, which can serve them well. Others may only get a knotty stump of circumstances.
The funny part is, I’ve known people in each of those situations who have definitely put the wood they used back into their community, and more. Others, no matter how much they start with, burn every stick, never replenish the pile, and maybe even ask for more.
Yes, leaving the woodpile higher than you found it is more work. It’s messy, complicated, tiring, and it might not give you any direct benefit. But you know it’s the right thing to do, and as every one of you who keep stacking it up/building your community knows, it gives you a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. That’s the stuff that makes life worth living.
WHAT THIS BLOG IS ABOUT
I don’t pretend to be an expert about building community, volunteering, or even stacking wood. I’m just a person who enjoys the heck out of doing cool things that make my town a better place to live. After all, if it’s a better place to live, and I’m doing fun, fulfilling things, life is pretty good, right? And the cool part – I’m not waiting for some other person, organization, or government to do it for me.
I bet a lot of you feel the same way – or maybe want to but don’t know where to start. This blog is about all of us exploring this concept of leaving your woodpile higher and bigger than you found it. Besides, being active in the community is fun!
I’ve learned a few things along the way that I want to share. We’ll talk to some folks who have figured other things out. There are whole communities that have a lot of wood stacking going on; let’s visit. Maybe we’ll even hear from some experts, if we have time. The point is, there are a million ways to stack wood and build community – there is no single formula or right way to do this. Only the right way for YOU!
So, as this blog rolls out, please feel free to comment on something that strikes your fancy, or message me with ideas of things to talk about. Together, we can learn a little bit and figure out ways to live the good life of giving back and building up.
Now that I have your attention, click on your favorite social media button on the right to receive regular notifications when we have a new post, or leave your email in the box to receive invitations directly to your inbox. No spam ever, I promise – I don’t have any to give!
And if you have something in particular you want us to talk about, please leave a comment below. We’ll do our best to cover a wide range of topics. We’re here to figure this woodpile thing, together!