BACK TO THE COUNTRY (I) – THE HERO

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It was time to think about getting the firewood for the winter, for the stove in the basement. Countrylike preoccupations. And tribulations, too. We were talking about it out in the back, dad sitting on the fence, he says grandpa’s got so much wood up in the old henhouse he will never use, not because he’s going on ninety-two, but he doesn’t light up fires anymore in his fireplace on wintry Sunday afternoons, too much of a hassle, although last year we spent quite a sum to get the chimney all clean – the chimney sweepers came! – the chimney’s old, all bricks, you would need steel now, but they cleaned it anyway, grandpa won’t use it, so should we get all that wood, old and half of it rotten as it’s been out there for ages, or just get it new? He says he’s done a few trips with his wheelbarrow up and down the hill from our house to grandpa’s: Is it worth it? “Why don’t you get what’s his name?” “Honestly, it would cost me more to get the wood down here than get new wood” – sometimes it’s all about the cost of things with him – so …

And then the farmers, two brothers, who live at the very top of the hill and who, among other things, go around chopping down trees into firewood, pass by on their way home and well, “what a coincidence! I was just talking about all this” – I’m being pointed at! – and a series of nodding and weird sounds that are not really words, eh, huh, bah, what are we gonna do?, the decision is made to go see straightaway, hop on the truck, dad will go up pronto with the two of them, in hindsight not such a good idea, grandpa will be eating, he’s not one to be disturbed while eating …

We’re awaiting now the return of the hero with the solution for the firewood. The two farmers will have the final word of course, one look at the big stack of old wood and they can tell instinctively how long it’s been rotting there, heads shaking in dismay, to think that grandpa was a better farmer than they – the wood’s been here at least 10 years! eh, huh, bah – and it’s never been grandpa’s job really, never had a farm, worked in a factory, always had a garden with vegetables and fruit, grandma was into the flowers, this being the division of labor in the country for the old school, all year round. The hero seems to be following in these old-fashioned steps, on sunny days of hobby-devoted afternoons, in his house without firewood, which runs on electrical heating, solar panels just installed a few years ago. But he’s got it. The rural understanding that nothing can be thrown away – nothing!

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