Saturday morning started like most Saturday mornings at the camp. The lake was calm, birds chirping, squirrels dodging pellets from my Crosman as they raided the bird feeder.
Dave and I were just discussing “the list”. You know, the list of things you want to get done around the camp, the list you created when you heard friends were coming for the weekend. A great chance to get some of the things done that require a little help.
My list was the usual length. It took up a page of notepaper, plus the stuff I didn’t want to write down in case the list fell into the wrong hands, i.e. Dave’s hands. No sense scaring a guy before you get started.
I eased him into the jobs, starting with a few minor electrical changes that Wendy wanted done, but won’t let me do, given my penchant for electrical fires and shocking people with old extension cords. As I keep telling her, none of the electrical incidents I have been involved with have been that bad, the fire was easily contained, and once my stepson, Kevin had a little rest his heart started to beat properly again. It wasn’t like…well…a major shock….it could have been worse.
We got things sorted out and Dave ran the wires where they should run, installed the new plug and fixed the light, and suggested I throw out the old extension cord before I electrocute someone else.
It was just about then that good ol’ Lonesome Larry showed up on his four wheeler, looking a little like an over aged biker gang member in his black “bad-boy-biker helmet, pulling his gas powered wood splitter on wheels.
“Oh Yeah” I exclaimed, remembering how, after he read my “Don’t Overdo It” story about wood splitting, that Larry volunteered to split up the remaining blocks of unsplit firewood that I had stacked neatly in a row, pretending that they were a rustic fence instead of a chunks of wood too big for me to split with the splitting maul and sledge hammer.
Larry, always prepared, and always thoughtful provided Dave and I each a pair of ear muffs to protect our ears from the sound of the wood splitter’s gas engine.
Dave and Larry held onto theirs in their hands. I promptly put mine on and recalled my days as a member of the Mickey Mouse Club…I even recited the Mickey Mouse Club pledge. In my head. I think.
Larry was talking, pointing to the various levers and parts of the big wood splitter. He was going over the finer points of wood splitting and as I later learned, the safety procedures, such as how not to cut off your arm, or get a chunk of wood in the groin.
I said I found out about the safety information later because I had already put my ear muffs on and was singing the Mickey Mouse Club song…I could see Larry’s lips moving, but couldn’t really hear much. I figured it must be OK because he and Dave kept looking at me and shaking their heads. I was watching a hummingbird at the feeder and wondering if I looked like a football announcer on television with my ear protector headset on or a rock and roll disc jockey on FM Radio.
Apparently they started up the splitter because I noticed that they were both wearing their ear protector headsets now. Dave was passing the wood from the pile to Larry who was putting it through the splitter. It really worked well. I was singing my heart out now, thinking how fun it was to sing and nobody, including me, could hear me.
The biggest chunks of wood were quickly halved, then quartered. I watched the wood split so easily and decided to throw my wood splitting maul in the lake as it was entirely outdated.
I also got to wondering if a wood splitter at Guantanamo Bay would have hastened the Americans getting information to find Bin Laden. I figured it would. “Don’t want to talk? Let me give you a demonstration of a little tool we have that might loosen your tongue….”
They switched places, said something to each other, laughed, and then Dave was in control of the lever, sliding the splitter into the big chunks of wood. It looked like fun. I figured it was time for me to jump in, so I started passing wood to Dave who split it, then with a flourish and flip of his wrist, let it fall to the growing woodpile.
In no time we had a system.
Larry watched his two new wood spitting proteges with apparent delight….or amusement as we struggled with the chunks of wood and levers and ear protectors and the constant thought that a slip and it was all over, split by a wood splitter. I remember thinking that would make an interesting reading obituary….”The funeral for Robert will be held in two stages, the burial of one half will be Tuesday and the remaining half has been cremated….”
It was around that time that Larry got tired of standing back watching us and stepped in to make the process go a little smoother…err…quicker…err…to make the process go….
His prowess with the splitter was remarkable to say the least, as chunks of wood split, divided and shattered, and I thought briefly how he would have made a good divorce lawyer. In no time there wasn’t a piece of wood on the property that wasn’t split up.
I looked over at Dave who was counting his fingers and limbs. All seemed accounted for, so he joined in as I passed the wood to him, he passed it to Larry who fed it into the splitter.
I started looking around for other stuff to split. It reminded me of my youth when we used to flatten nails and other assorted things on the railway tracks when the trains were coming. You’re always thinking, “If it will split something that big, what about something THAT big?”
In those days of flattening stuff on the train track, we started with pennies, moved to nickels, dimes, nails, and then fish, mackeral being a special favorite….getting bigger and bigger, wondering if their was any end to what the train would flatten. In retrospect, pushing the old 71 Volkswagon onto the train track may not have been a good idea, but…who knows until you try….
Suffice to say, there isn’t a piece of wood on the property that hasn’t been split, and if Larry hadn’t of hooked up the splitter to his four wheeler and headed for home, I was about to see what it would do to a Mazda truck.