Matchstick mum

Autumn woods

This is what a cord of wood looks like.

Sometimes this endlessly toxic campaign is too much with us. Every day, as we turn on the television or open the paper, a flood of scurrilous rumours and tendentious stories wash over us, threatening to drown us. At this point, there is some consolation in knowing that of the candidates remains unsullied by the opposition’s relentless attacks on his honor, his patriotism, his religion, his national origin, his skin color. We want more than consolation, Perhaps foolishly, we want all presidential candidates to be people of honor. We want them to inspire us and to appeal to the best in us. This is too big a job for one person. The ugliness of the fabrications, the brutal attacks on the body politic brings us close to despair. At such times, it helps to put the whole hideous mess out of mind and turn to the kind of October surprise that reassures us that there is more to life than politics.
This afternoon, we took a break to stack a cord of wood or wood guy, one of the few local people who have to keep the Mountaineer accent and courtly manner of rural West Virginians alive amid the urban hordes. He drives a battered truck that has Bluetooth, he accepts three kinds of credit cards, and he is voting for Obama–so much for the myth of barefoot, moonshine slurping, racist mountain folk. He gives us great service. The wood he brings us is mostly reclaimed fence posts. Some of the trees he cuts are so damaged by insects they cannot be used for much else besides than firewood. He cuts them precisely so that the logs will fit into our Norwegian wood stove and he takes pride in telling us which kind of trees they came from. This time around, he brought us mostly oak logs, which we stacked as neatly as we know how, being urban folks ourselves. It was hard work, make bearable by the buttery autumn light that bounced off wild cherry and sugar maple trees. We piled the logs on a space where bergamot grows. Crushed bergamot leaves have a heavenly citrusy smell and this is what we will remember from this afternoon, as we will remember the last roses blooming in the garden and the unsurpassed beauty of chrysanthemus glowing in the light of setting sun. Not bad for an October surprise.


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