mercredi 1 octobre 2008

Wood stash

Half ten, they arrived with the thirty stair of wood for the Winter. It had got colder. The tractor was an old rusty cross-eyed get up with a broken radiator guard and the trailer it pulled was a ramshackle affair held together by blackened metal and worn-out planks of wood. The driver backed the stash into our open garage on the side of the road. There was about three hundred logs of various thicknesses, all about a metre long, and it took a few attempts to park up without hitting the never to be used hen coops and the beam that holds the slanting thing up. The other two blokes drew up in the car and got out. The old guy who drove the tractor was the gaffer though the young fella and the other, a middle aged man with thick white hair, didn't seem to take his authority that seriously. The old guy slowly got down from the cab

OK, he said. Lets get to work.

We stood on the small pile of logs left over from last year and started to heave the logs off the trailer. Some were surprisingly thin, a few not that much thicker than branches but others were real tree trunks. The majority took a lot of effort despite their size yet a few, dry and almost rotted, were as light as paper. The wood was from chestnut trees. It burns clean and gives out a lot of heat. The bark was brown and mottled, sometimes green in places. One had a colony of ants on it, the other a fat maggot. As the logs were thrown on the pile they played notes like from a giant xylophone. The work had a regular rythmn and we got through the ten metres cubed in twenty minutes or so. It was good to feel the physical work stretch and warm the muscles in my arms and back.

We soon finished. Inside over a glass of Bordeaux, the team told us about who they delivered wood to. All the English round here, the gaffer said and laughed. I said, in my dog French, that if there was going to be a recession, at least we'd have enough wood to keep warm. We pay him but we're twenty euros short. "Just give it to M. my auntie I'll see her next week", he says with a smile. They drink up and the white haired guy tells us they've got another delivery in the next village to do. After the au revoirs, the rickety tractor starts up and they're gone.

In L'Humanité today, the inside page story talks about the bank chiefs, politicians and commentators are all talking about the lack of trust but how the state will guarantee bank accounts. Like someone who says 'Don't worry - I'm not going to hurt you.', you have to wonder that, like the paper said, they are preparing people for the worst.

Selfishly, I think 'At least we've got a stash of wood'