The “woodchucks” who unloaded more than a ton of firewood are, from left, Patrick Benson, Robby Benson and James Gulivindala. (They are available for hire.) --(Photo by Mary Gulivindala)

The “woodchucks” who unloaded more than a ton of firewood are, from left, Patrick Benson, Robby Benson and James Gulivindala. (They are available for hire.) –(Photo by Mary Gulivindala)

by Mary Gulivindala

It’s all about the attitude!

Fall is here. It’s getting brisk. The air is crisp, and in the evening you can smell chimney fires burning. Oh so Charles Dickens like. I have a fireplace. I’m addicted to it. It’s pretty and smells good. Last year was my first winter in my home on Highland Avenue. I bought a bundle of wood at a time from Kilian’s hardware store. I learned it’s not cheap buying wood a bundle at a time.

After observing the stacks of wood my neighbors keep, fantasizing how I would like to steal a log or two but didn’t, I decided I would be fireplace savvy this year. I asked the neighbors where they get their wood and decided I would get my wood delivered in bulk. No more hauling bundles of wood on my back for blocks. Ohhhh, the luxury, delivery!

I got the name of a firewood company and looked them up. Not knowing ANYTHING, I contacted my wood connoisseur mentor and asked if the price was good. She said yes. I called the company and put in an order. How much wood? My friend gets a cord, so I ordered one too. I couldn’t afford it, but I can’t afford my gas bill either.

A log of wood doesn’t give you a bill at the end of the month. That’s worth the financial strain. Being prudent, I asked the owner if he would cut a deal with me. If I had two deliveries on the same day, would they give me a discount. They said yes! Happy me, they came down $80 on the cost of wood and waived one delivery charge. Then I was asked if I wanted to have the wood stacked for $35. Stacked, like piled up? “No I can do that myself” and save the money.

Then came delivery day. Here came this very wide monster dump truck. My neighbor’s driveway runs along the side of my backyard. After trying to back this mammoth-sized beast in several times, slightly scraping my house, it squeezed in. Next thing I know, up goes the back, and a thunderous sound of dropping wood permeates the air. I pay, and off they go. Now it’s just me and a mountain of wood.

I opened my gate and began stacking wood. About a half hour in, I’m still surrounded by a sea of wood. This was terrible. I couldn’t leave it; it was my neighbor’s driveway, and I hadn’t asked permission to use it. Literally paralyzed with defeatist thinking, I was ready to give up when I heard the welcome sound of my son’s school bus drop him off. Help!

Help was my 12-year-old son. I’m sweaty, I’m exhausted, and I’m cranky. Here he comes bopping down the drive. “Hi Mom, what’cha doing?” “Honey, I need your help. We have to get all this wood in the backyard.” He resounds “OK”, runs off, changes and comes back. Minutes later his two neighbor friends come running up. “Hey boys, you wanna make some money?” YEA! “Go get changed and help us stack this wood.” They run off and come back lickety split. Now I have a little work force. Myself, a 13-year-old and two 12-year-old boys stacking a very heavy cord of wood.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I had no idea, and I didn’t know what a cord of wood was either. Here’s what I learned the hard way: A woodchuck could (and does) chuck around 35 cubic feet of dirt digging a burrow, an amount equivalent to the weight of the dirt, or 700 pounds.

What is “chucking?” Chuck is a verb: to toss; throw a short distance. Humans call it stacking. My three human woodchucks did start chucking the logs towards the end to get them closer to the pile. Animal instincts.

Now how much does a cord of firewood weigh? A cord of wood is 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet and equals 128 cubic feet. The weight of a cord of wood depends on the wood. It will vary in weight from 2000 to 4000 pounds.

An hour passed and I’m feeling guilty; this is hard work! I say, “It’s OK, James, why don’t you go play?” I can do this. “No mom, no Ms. G., we’re staying to the end.” I couldn’t believe it! They were working hard and knew I gave them a pass to leave with pay, but they stayed. The best part was their attitudes. THEY WERE HAPPY WORKING THE WHOLE TIME!

Finally we finished the job. We chucked three times more wood than a woodchuck could and does! I’ve done a lot of physical labor, moving rocks, landscaping and shoveling just to name a few, but this one was downright painful. I went to get money. I felt so bad for those boys, who didn’t feel bad at all considering they were playing with the wood. I handed them each a $10. “That’s OK, Ms. G, you don’t have to pay us.” My eyes welled up with tears. I couldn’t believe it. With great concern and worry on their little faces, they ask “What’s wrong?” What’s wrong; what’s right?! I was dumbfounded, I literally grabbed all three and started hugging them and laughing. Then I paid them the same amount as the company charges.

Here is the beauty of kids that cranky adults like myself can learn from. These boys were having a blast. Actually it’s “these” kids in particular. I’ve watched these three boys play like kids should all summer. Running around, jumping on a trampoline, shooting basketballs and just being kids, salt of the earth.

That night I was too tired to light a fire. The lesson those boys taught me, I’d happily pay more than $35. Next year, I’m going to have the company do it. This year I was given a precious lesson about attitude. I’m better for the experience, and the memory warms my heart more than a cord of wood could.