Friday, 22 October 2010
Winter will soon be upon us. Already the first sharp frosts have turned the grass in the orchard white. The Czech winter can be long and white – with snow lasting from early December into March. The Czechs have been getting ready for it all summer. Even as I was picking redcurrants in the garden I could hear the sound of chainsaws in the village. Whatever the carol (about the Czechs' saintly king) says the Czechs like to get their firewood well before the snow is deep and thick and even.
All around me whole walls of logs have been assembled in the gardens, ready for when the logs will be split and sawn to length, then they are stocked high against the house walls, where they are protected from the weather be the overhanging eaves. Still the chopping and sawing continues. The family across the way from us have been disappearing off on an old tractor, only to reappear with a trailer piled high with old wood. As I write the head of the family and his brother are using a remarkable machine to split four foot long logs. My other neighbours came back from their weekly visit to the supermarket yesterday with a new chainsaw.
I too have my store of wood piled against the wall near to the front door. Believe me when the snow comes I would not want to have to transport it any further. I hope it is enough. Last year winter was longer than is usual, with snow first appearing (and disappearing) in October, and it caught some of my neighbours out. They have no intention of it doing so this year. I am using up my supply from last year, when we cut down some trees in the orchard and cut up some old rotten beams. But if the worst comes to the worst I have my plans – the remnants of the floor downstairs may be for the chop.
I really should be stocking up on wood for the 2011-2012 Winter, laying down cheaper unseasoned wood for the future. I know some of my neighbours are doing just that. But somehow I can't just bring myself to look at more than one cold Czech winter at a time.