The Wood Splitter
He breathed deeply and swung. Clank! Another deep breath and a swing. Another clank! Eight more times, and he paused. “Damn!” he would say, catching his breath and wondering if the middle of his eighth decade might be catching up with him. Maybe, but determination kept that other reality in check.
He had cut this tree the previous fall after it fell victim to a beetle attack, and sawed it into segments that would fit into his wood stove. The segments sat in his yard through the winter, drying bit by bit. There were lots of limbs, seen and unseen, with this one. Most began their growth near the tree's heart, and as the growth rings expanded outward, they grew over the limbs, leaving the limbs' cores in the trunk. And it was those wretched internal limb remnants, knots in sawn lumber, that resisted his best efforts to split the wood.
The Force was with this piece! A few more ten-swing efforts with his wedge bouncing from rather than splitting the segment and he set his maul aside in frustration. And a few more expletives assuaged his lack of success. Tomorrow perhaps! Overhead, dark clouds were swiftly moving eastward from over the edge of the timber and provided a convenient diversion from that recalcitrant chunk of pine. Aah, he thought, maybe the mountains and clouds might offer some scenic respite from his wood-splitting chores.
So he set out across the yard, through the three-wire fence and down the meadow, tracking alongside an ancient granite rock formation until he came to a time-molded, lichen-covered seat complete with a comfortable back. He sat, peering between a couple of trees, and there before him in the distance were the Mummy Mountains where Mother was playing some physics games. Moist air, cold air, updrafts, color shifts, powerful winds! Yes, there were probably equations to explain it all, but simple wonder was good enough for his fatigued frame at the moment. So he just sat - with his deepest thoughts on the critters that managed to survive in the hostile environment of the snow-covered, wind-tortured mountains – while the visual turbulence played out like a raucous musical score. Then, with approaching darkness and sensing his place in the grandeur, he rose and headed to the house.
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