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  • Writer's pictureThomas Lawrence Toscano


Well, this is a scene that I'm sure disturbs many of you. I can hear the groans and the eventual spring complaints of "when is the weather going to change?". Living at approximately 1400 feet has it's own rules. BE HAPPY! Many, see inclement weather and hunker down - I've always been the kind of person to go out in storms. The stronger the wind, the more I wanted to be in it. There's a cleansing reality to great gusts of wind and further, it's quite an invigorating experience to lean into the wind and have it hold you upright as you insist with each step not to yield. There's a connection with nature very much akin to being at sea in a storm, or performing emergency tasks that must be completed no matter the situation.

Sorry, my wheelbarrow is new to our family and is a bit shy. This week we, at our elevation, had some curious experiences, while it was sleeting and mixing in town etc. slightly above it was all snow and of course, I was outside. Culling downed wood from the forest to heat the cabin, I didn't hesitate to begin a large project which I hope to make headway with this morning, in fact. A very large white birch part of a tree which had 3 trunks, all at least 60 feet tall. One of them, apparently, was dead, and it was felled directly behind my cabin. I have the most wonderful concentration of white birch and thrill at their site every time I look at them. Oddly, or perhaps perfectly, they have always been my favorite trees, and I remember how

they graced the front of our home in Mahopac, which we moved to 5 days shy of my 13th birthday.

And, yes, I've always adored snow and winter and the cold. Apparently, ( I actually looked up the official records) I was born on a Thursday and it was snowing in the Bronx on that last day of January. I've never lost the thrill of the first snow and my ability to be a part of its rhythms.

So, when the snow storm came through and started dumping snow - I had no hesitation what so ever, it was time to cut wood, and so I went out and began the task at hand.

Initially, I had a great time. I started to make cuts with my new Stihl chain saw and was working quite diligently when, of course, the enormous trunk of the white birch slipped and captured the saw. Hmmmm, I kind of new this would happen, given the angles - however - I hadn't anticipated it so soon. When It was clear I couldn't take it out - I simply left it there as the snow intensified, and went about getting the proper lever to remedy the awkward embrace. The tree, by the way, has not hate relationship with the saw. They are both aware of each other's purpose, and the saw in fact, helps the tree move on to it's next reality. Yes, the tree could stay on the ground for a decade or two being absorbed and utilized by the living patterns and activities of which it is so much a part. And, of course, there's another option. It can bond with me as it warms my environment, protecting me from the so often harsh cold that the cabin experiences, and continue the seemingly eternal practice of proudly being fuel for fire. Often times, the birch logs ( that I already have) provide the breakfast or lunch fire upon which I cook. Cooking with wood, fulfills a vision of "slow cooking" that I had quite some time ago, as I pondered my grandmother's recipes and looked back in time to their mother's and grandmother's cooking on wood stoves. SLOW is the tempo of wood cooking - it is any wonder that SLOW cooking creates the best tasting food? Believe me it does - and still does.

So, I grabbed a lever - it was a 4 ft level in fact, used it as I would a pry bar, and gently lifted the log, which released the saw from it's embrace and brought it back to its normal individual state. Of course, the snow increased and increased and it was an incredible site - I'm sure - for the creatures around me to observe this guy - harvesting wood when the rest were simply waiting for it all to pass. ( I don't mind being comedic relief for nature, truly I don't. I think it's great to have them all look at me and laugh at my tomfoolery). As I lumbered off through the snow, realizing that it would be best to wait for a day when I could more accurately gauge how mother birch is lying, I looked around and said - "OK, time to stop".

I collected all the tools, put them into their appropriate places, and went inside. I fuddled around, took off all my protective gear, and believe it or not when I looked up - OF COURSE - it stopped snowing! HA! Once again, mother nature had it's fun with me. And, no, I did not go back out. Today is the day for that - and I'm even more blessed than I was the other day - for warmer temperatures arrived and mother birch has been revealed in even greater detail. And, given that I have procured two crow bars, I'm ready for anything.

The conditions around us can be scary - and I am well aware of the tragedies with fire that are happening on our planet and the billions of lives both animal and human that the Australian fires are claiming. Perhaps, because of this great stark reality, we can begin to appreciate all that we have AND to remember, each day that there is a power a presence much greater than ourselves - and that no amount of human arrogance, whatever its form, will ever change a simple fact. The planet is the greater authority and it is our duty to be a partner, not an adversary. Shelter is good - but - disconnection is not. The next time there's weather you are afraid of, take a minute and experience it on its own terms. You might be surprised at how great it feels.

Thank you all for being with me here today! Thomas

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