Never, never again!



It is winter in Italy. Staying warm can be a challenge, especially when you don’t live here year round. We have always been amused with the Italian men, always outside cutting wood. Relax, winter is not coming for another six months. There will be plenty of time to split and saw that log! The fiddle playing grasshopper comes to mind.
When we left Italy on our previous trip we knew we needed wood for our next arrival. But that was not before the following year and beside spending 185 Euros on wood that would be laying around, seemed needless. We made sure we would have enough wood for the first week on our next arrival.

So here we are back in Italy. The first thing on the to do list was to get fire wood. We started the week looking for wood and to our surprise found none. No wood in the land of wood burning fireplaces! One place would get some, but nothing before the end of April. Others were plain out and would not have more wood before the end of the year. The situation looked dire. One place where we have bought wood before, told us they might get some wood, but not before the end of the week. So in broken Italian it was agreed to send emails to let us know what was happening.

As the pictures above illustrate, it appears that there is plenty of wood to be bought. But that is not the case. The wood you see, is not seasoned and will not be available for sale for another few months. Unseasoned wood burns very inefficiently and gives off a heavy grey smoke, whereas seasoned wood burns clean, or at least efficiently.

We went home and decided to do what we have seen the Italians do and that is to stock up on wood from around the property where they live. We decided to do the same. We went back into our little forest behind the house. Nobody had taken care of that stretch of land for years. There were dead branches, all sizes and lengths all over the ground.
We went to work transversing the near 25 degrees hill. We had attached a solid rope about 60 feet up the hill that was a tremendous help getting up and down. We would gather branches at every level and we would then push, throw or by any other means get the branches to the downstairs. Here we would cut them into wood stove pieces. We had bought an electric chainsaw to make the sawing and splitting of the wood easier. We worked through the weekend and by Sunday afternoon we were pleased with what we had done. We had amassed enough wood to last this trip and beyond.
We had beaten the odds! We had wood from our own forest to keep us comfy for the next four weeks.
Monday morning, another beautiful day in the Cencenighe. We had a few errands to make, so we took advantage of the good weather and headed out early. We tried to reserve Mondays for grocery shopping. So after stopping at the local ATM at Cassa du Risparmio Del Veneto, we proceeded to Kanguro, the largest and only grocery supermarket in Cencenighe. We also had a couple of errands in Agordo. They were quickly accomplished and we made it home for lunch in good time. After lunch, an espresso and some quiet time on the sofa.

We were just about to leave the apartment again to go for a short hike, when there was a knock on the door. We were not expecting anybody, so it must be the neighbor from downstairs. We opened ready to greet them. But it was not the neighbors! It was a delivery guy, which was apparent from his uniform. No, there were no balloons, nor fan fare. We hadn’t won the lottery.
The guy hands us a slip of paper, which we recognize from the last place we had visited last week, inquiring about wood. He was here to deliver! We were as shocked as if we had won the lottery.

After composing ourselves, we looked out the window and saw the huge truck with pallets of wood. One of them was for us.
Last year and the years before we had said to ourselves, never, never again will we carry wood up the hill to the house. And those times the tractor was able to get relatively close to the house. This time the delivery truck came with an electric forklift that could barely make it up the steep path. In fact, it stopped halfway. That was it.
Leave the pallet of 2 square meters of wood in the middle of the path for us to deal with!

Never, never again will I carry wood up to the third floor again. But leaving this brick of woods where it was, was no solution either. So let’s dump the wood on the side, so it is out of the way and we will decide tomorrow what to do.
We did empty the crate and carried it up and placed it behind the house, ready to be reloaded. In the meantime the neighbor from below us comes with his wheelbarrow and tells us to use that to transport the wood up the hill. By this time it is rather late, it is almost dark, but I do fill the wheelbarrow with about fifty pieces of wood, but leave it there for the next day.

The following morning I jump out of bed ready to take the “Never, never again” project head on!
I get one load up the hill and it starts to rain. Now, we have been here for over two weeks without a cloud in the sky, and now on this most crucial day of days it starts to rain. But what’s a little rain? I shouldn’t have said that. The rain now came down heavy. I had to stop working. I was sliding in the mud. So of all the days in a calendar year I hit the one day of the year when it rains in the Dolomiti.

To top off the one and only day it would rain and delay my work in getting the wood pile transferred to back of the house, it started to snow.
Of all the days in a calendar year it had to snow as well.
I knew that the neighbors were watching and making bets as to how many days, perhaps weeks it would take me to transfer the wood pile.

Between the rain and snow, no work was done that day.

It took the next two days, morning mainly to move the pile from the lower front of the property to the back of the house. Now you must remember and appreciate that pushing a wheelbarrow with about sixty pieces of split wood up hill is quite a task, wether you are in your twenties or over seventy. It is hard work. Pushing fifty to sixty loads can tire anybody.

On the third day after the wood had been delivered, it had been transferred to back of the house. The next door neighbor congratulated me on my accomplishment of having moved the pile in such a short time. Which proved I was right about betting behind closed windows.

I wonder if I ever will utter those three famous words again: “Never, never again”!

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