Moving the Old Folks
A Job Done Together
Story and Photos by Desire´Aguirre
When I pulled into the driveway in Laclede, my eighty-year-old mom, Rhoda Sanford, had her electric chainsaw in hand and already had made a significant dent in the pile of wood.
“Mom,” I said, “you were supposed to wait for me.”
I hauled myself out of Little Blacky, a she-can truck, primed my fourteen-inch she-can-chainsaw, pulled the easy start-up, and side by side, Mom and I attacked that stack of wood, turning it into cords for winter warmth. We worked well together, stopping to stack the wood, clear the debris into burn piles, and give our bodies and our chainsaws a moment to rest. We have pretty simple wood cutting rules: Mom’s limit is two batteries and my limit is one tank of gas. Plus we never cut when it’s too hot, too slippery wet, or when we’re too tired.
Afterward, we went into the kitchen for a cup of coffee, musing on how two California girls had become so countrified. Mom grew up in San Francisco during the Depression and World War II, married a Marine from Indiana, had three kids, and raised her family in the Santa Clara Valley, close to her sisters and their children. If we had a fireplace, it was for decorative purposes only. We never cut up, split, or stacked firewood, didn’t know the difference between tamarack and white pine, green, punk or dry wood.
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