By Isaac Lorton
Like the proverbial squirrel stowing away nuts for the winter, people up here store wood. The way in which they store it, stack it, pile it, says a lot about the places they live.
You are classic Vermont. You live at the top of a hill near the end of a dirt road, and when winter comes, you are hunkering down. You have a red barn-like shed with plenty of wood ready to go. You’ve seen worse. You’ve done it before. And that’s just your backup supply. You’ve got wood piles on wood piles in your basement. Your owners can make it up and down the hill — no problem — but they know the comfort of a warm home in the depths of winter, and they’re not leaving.
You are a maple farm. You are the tree whisperer. You need the sap from the maples, but also need the most ginormous stack of firewood for the sugaring process. You have built a wall of firewood before the snow comes not to keep it at bay, but because you know that when winter begins to thaw, you’ll need those stacks for all that syrup you’ll be making. But you’ve got supplementary wood piles as well. Enough to keep everyone warm.
You are a haunted cabin. You are definitely haunted. There is a 10-year-old, deteriorating pile of wood on your crooked porch. The windows are boarded up and the foundation is crumbling, yet for some reason there is a pile of wood. Was the owner spooked by the wood spirits trying to take back the cabin and left the firewood as a sacrifice (peace offering?). We will never know, but we do know, ghosts don’t need firewood.
You are a cozy winter retreat. You host hikers warming up to the fire with a hot toddy after a long day outside. You are a respite for those who do not want to have to go outside and face the elements, but when they do have to go, you have sheds full of fire-ready, easy-access wood. And you also have an outhouse. Anytime someone has to trudge outside to do their business, it is their duty to bring back some firewood. Rules are rules.
You are a dairy farm. Gotta keep the cows happy and warm. It is a well known fact that the happiest and warmest cows produce the best cream for hot cocoa. And utterly warm udders in the winter pay off in the summer with delicious ice cream too. You have enough wood to build an Ark, and though it is a dairy farm, there are other animals — and humans who take care of the animals — to keep warm. You are Noah, sheltering all those who are cold and need of a welcoming fire. Maybe fire and boats aren’t the most apt metaphor. But you get the idea.