June Haibun: Firewood

On Saturday about six o’ clock Brian and I got into Gabe’s canoe and paddled away from the site and across the river, looking for firewood. We tried the big backwater right across from us first, hoping to find driftwood that had hung up in the grasses there when the water came down, but there was nothing but a gaggle of red-winged blackbirds and a few ducks that exploded out of their hiding spots skyward at our approach.

When the bottom came up too far and I had to get out and nudge us off the sand we turned around and headed back to the main channel. There, we turned upriver and went a hundred yards or so up to a spot where the steep eroded banks provided just a small enough beach to pull the canoe up.

We scrambled up the vertical bank, the sand slipping out from under our feet, and then we headed back into the woods. It was mostly just trees and grass, no under-brush, and we walked around until we found where the flood waters had stopped earlier in the season and there was a winding line of driftwood piled up.

I put on gloves and unsheathed the axe and went to work making a pile of usable firewood, mostly wrist-sized pieces twice as long as optimal for burning. Later, we would break it or chop it up as we needed it to stoke the fire. Brian took armloads back and forth to the canoe and we loaded it up to the gunwales. It was warm and dirty work but rewarding. In 15 minutes time we had a boatload and we pushed off and paddled back to the site.

  Unload the canoe
     The bright light of day is gone
   A long evening begins