Two cords of firewood were delivered last night, as promised, right at 1830. I was waiting outside of the barn where the room is in which the wood will eventually be stacked.
In a geography where wood is plentiful, it is not always easy to find a suitable grade, as some who supplement their income with this trade will often try to slip unseasoned or mooky wood into the delivery. And when I ask for no fir, I mean it. Over the years we have had good wood from one man, but Parkinson’s and a son who is no longer interested in helping has stopped that source. I have tried a few others since, one providing rotten and another wet fir in his mix. I have endured racist remarks and ministering while we unload; yet if one’s load is good, I remain cordial.
Last year we were a bit late finding a source, which found me on Craig’s List. I was dubious but made inquiries. The person who returned my call had a mix of oak and cherry, and assured me it was well-seasoned. The price was a bit “spendy” but a price I was willing to pay faced with the prospect of an astronomical electric bill. The wood was good, so I called him again this year. The price had gone up another $20/cord, yet with a four-cord order I was able to talk him back to last year’s price.
As indicated above, in order to pass the time while unloading, conversations are initiated. For instance, last year I learned something about this man’s profession and his marital status, the latter evidenced by the three young children he had brought with him to help. There were three more at home, none of which were biologically his but all for whom he felt a responsibilty. Work was supposed to help in this endeavor.
Industry is a good lesson, yet so is group mechanics, especially when heavy missiles are flying though the air. I found the job slowed by the children’s eagerness to make a game of the task, and myself having two well-disciplined children grown, found my patience waning. Still, I remained mute, paid for the load in cash, as requested, and set about putting the wood up in peace and quiet.
I could hear the diesel slow in front of our place and walked out a bit from the barn to wave him back. As he pulled in, so did a car behind. As he backed the load up to the barn, the car spilled its contents. Four children ranging in age from two to eight years, and two more from the truck.
“Llamas!!!! I want to pet the llamas!!!!” They were at the fence squealing in such a manner that the animals started to move into another paddock. I told the kids that llamas do not like to be touched, hoping that parents would take a hint, still, under the fence the children went without intervention.
“I want a pear!!!! Can I have a pear??!!??”
“No. They are not ripe yet.” I detected my terse tone. “The plums are not ready either.”
Unloading the wood was again an ordeal with children looking to pitch over our heads and running behind the trailer for a balk. The eldest, a girl of twelve (for today was her birthday) and prettily attired in a sundress and flip-flops, gingerly (for she wore no gloves) passed single logs to the mother, also in flip-flops. I worked faster than I might otherwise. A liability for my back, perhaps, yet a greater one, the toddler, scurried relatively unattended from one farm distraction to the next.
Job finished, children packed away, I reflected back upon the check I handed over upon their arrival. Initially, I was worried that the man would again want cash, yet I was somewhat unwilling to go to the ATM multiple days or to withdraw a large amount when our account is good. Furthermore, I wondered what his reaction might be to the format of the check. You see, DW is somewhat of an advocate, and our checks special-ordered so that an organization might receive funds and free publicity for their slogan: “Every woman safe and healthy. Every child wanted and loved.” His wife seemed that she was. And no doubt the children adored. I would just add one more line: “Every child safe and healthy.” It was a small miracle that I heard only one of them cry.
I am left with a dilemma. Another load is coming tomorrow. Do I ask that he come alone? It would make for a much safer work environment. Surely he would understand, this construction worker.