While gathering kindling in the woods behind the house my mind turns to the future. There is enough wood that is down and dead to heat a household or two, perhaps, but not more. It could sustain many more households in kindling, but again we’re not talking of the feudal forests that could trip up Hansel and Gretel, or the massive forests of a bygone America. This is a narrow woodlot – belonging to the State – in a suburb of Massachusetts.
Once in a while we meet neighbors jogging, or walking their dogs, and we make light of our “cargo”. They move on – invariably they’re faster than we are – and I wonder if our exchange will stay as friendly, as lighthearted, as the times change. Will we encounter more people gathering “free” wood? Will there be axes? Or worse? Will we discuss our rights to gather? Or will we just take?
I want to gather kindling every day as the weather allows. It’s good physical exercise and it stimulates Amie’s imagination – not always verbalized for me to partake of. It kindles my thoughts as well, summoning a dark picture that is fuzzed, though, at the edges, by the knowledge of how easily these smooth, dead sticks will catch fire in our wood stove, come the cold days.