I have two axes to grind: a two-and-a-quarter-pound Boy’s Ax, and a Fiskars 28” Splitting Ax.
Tim gave me the Boy’s Ax for Christmas in 1984, my first winter in Vermont. I was living in a poorly insulated cabin smaller than my Manhattan apartment. I heated the cabin with a small, wood stove. The ax came in handy.
Last year, the ax flew off the handle. This had happened before. As previously, we bought a replacement haft of hickory. But it was also time for a new, heavier, axe, because for the past six years I’ve been splitting wood to heat my writing studio. The building is only a hundred square feet, and the wood stove is tiny; it takes six-inch pieces of wood. So Tim bought me the Fiskars 28, a highly engineered Finnish beauty that cuts wood the way a hot knife cuts butter.
He should know. Every year, he saws a load of logs to stove length, then splits it all with one of his ever-growing collection of axes and mauls.
AN AX, A PEN, A COMPUTER
A good ax makes a big difference, and not just in cutting firewood. My two axes are as critical to my writing as either a pen or my laptop. Splitting wood, building a fire, stoking the stove, and listening to the chuckle of the fire — these are all part of my writing ritual, and appropriately so. Humans have been using axes since the Stone Age; they predate writing, as does storytelling.
I like to think that after those early ax wielders chopped down trees and split logs and built fires, their clans gathered around that source of light and heat, and told stories. I need both the ax and the pen to follow in this long and distinctly human tradition.
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Francette Cerulli says
I also have a Fiskars axe, and love it! It requires so much less effort than a skinny axe. I use my skinny one for splitting kindling, but there is nothing like my Fiskars for getting firewood split in record time. Since it works so well it makes me feel stronger than I actually am. A good tool makes all the difference!
Deborah Lee Luskin says
Yes! “A good tool makes all the difference!” (That sounds like a line from Robert Frost, who wrote about wood splitting in at least two poems I can think of, Two Tramps in Mud Time and another, where a boy chops down a Christmas tree on the speaker’s property (title?).)
Kathryn Bonnez says
A writer’s studio, in the dead of winter in Vermont, heated only by a wood stove. You’re a better woman than I! Although I’m shivering just thinking about it, I do love the idea of the studio – a room of one’s own. Sometimes writing at home doesn’t work because of the ease of finding other things to do, not to mention the distractions from the outside world. I imagine when going out to your studio, you have the sense of “going to work”, a nice separation from domesticity and other intrusions. I hope you have a nice window to view those beautiful mountains from the photo. Stay warm and think of spring!
Deborah Lee Luskin says
Yes, my studio is all the things you mentions. And I’m one of those people who adores winter weather. The more snow, the merrier; the colder the better. And I do have a wonderful view! Thanks for commenting.
Peter Rusatsky says
This is our first full winter in South Newfane,Vt. Although it is a second home, one of my fondest thoughts on the way there (2.75 hours ) from Connecticut is lighting the wood stove. Had all sorts of problems last winter not really knowing how to use one. Didn’t even know where the damper was. Now that stove has been brought back into proper operation it provides beautiful heat and a beautiful view of fire through glass door. I cheated though. I purchased my fire wood !