There is a small window of opportunity to get the best wood from the best secret spots in the best hidden locations that only locals dare to tread. How cocky we are when we have ‘owned’ a particular wood season. It’s almost like an exclusive club; you’ve been worded up on the where- abouts, you’ve sharpened your chainsaw and off you pop to chop down as much wood as you like because you are prepared, you know what’s up.

When Paul and I started dating, 7 years ago, I worked in a Fitzroy cafe with a bunch of chicks. We use to judge male potential on a scale of 1 to10 by how well they could chop wood, no joke. Paul got a 10 due to his charm, plaid shirts and luscious manly ginger beard. Luckily his score transferred to the bush 5 years later as I witnessed first-hand his handy work with a chainsaw, an axe and 100% commitment to the cause. Our wood shed was pristinely adorned with neatly stacked logs 2 metres high, covering every wall like some beautiful 70s cladding. Paul’s OCD was put to good use that season and yes, we were smug. Paul made grand plans for the 2017 wood collection, penciling in wood chopping expeditions with enthusiastic city men. There would be bush bashing, whisky drinking and hopefully some fire wood at the end of it all.

There are lots of rules about wood collection. You can’t just go “Oh look, there’s a log, I’ll just take that.” There are specific websites to tell you where the legal stuff is at. 

I’ll never forget driving up Mt. Franklin and seeing a bunch of council workers trimming branches off some scraggly pines and orange flagged off areas with signs saying DO NOT REMOVE. This pissed us right off, all this good wood, ready and waiting for us and we couldn’t touch the stuff. Pft, see you with a bloody head torch a blunt axe and the will to live at midnight I say! 

There was another desperate time in the beginning of country life at my old place of work, where they had roaring fires in each of the dining rooms. The wood was stored out the back of the cafe and there were numerous occasions where I stood looking at the stack wondering if it would be obvious if I hid a log in my handbag.

April 16, 2017

I still have yet to see any wood collected. Most days utes drive past with trailers on the back heavy with whole trees chopped up and stacked high. Sadness washes over Paul’s face like an ex- lover driving off with all his belongings. “This weekend,” he says “I’ll go out and get some”. YES, YES please for the love of god do this because I fear we might lose some cred (if we had any to begin with) if we have to purchase wood this winter, plus there is no such thing as wood rationing in this household, as soon as we commence fire season, that’s it, a fire shall be lit every night until late spring whether it be 14 degrees in the house or 24! 

I got so desperate the other day to get the ball rolling that I pointed out a big gum branch down by the river near our house. Paul asked, “How on earth am I going to take it home?” So there I was, yes, pregnant, not so strong, little me attempting to drag the giant branch up the dirt road, not making an inch of progress. 

April 23, 2017 

MISSION: Wine and dine our city guests and once adequately lubed up, convince them that an 8am wood collecting mission is the best way to cure imminent hangover. 

Our great pals Jake and Gabby came to stay Saturday evening, Gabby sporting a broken arm after a work doo where she gave her best performance on rollerblades. Some would say this would hinder her ability to collect large logs. Not the case it seems, she even made reference to Jake’s hair suggesting that she was the more masculine of the two as he spent quite some time in the morning working on the just right hair style for the day. This and the fact that she was wearing overalls told me she was wood chopping material.

Early Sunday morning I sent the flock on their merry way, out in the wilderness (outer Maryborough) while I scoffed a bee sting cake and napped for 2 hours on the couch. 

When the hard working fold returned I was filled in on the proceedings. They got to their designated location but found only some lame bits of small branches scattered about, but then Laser Eyes (Gabby) saw in the distance a tonne of decent large logs squealing at her, “Pick me, pick me.”

Ol’ Laser Eyes managed to help out, with a broken arm might I remind you, rolling logs along with her foot, at one stage carrying logs with one foot, hopping along holding the top with an elbow. Sisters are doing it for themselves HELLO! I’m pretty sure Jake spent a large portion of his time fixing his locks and Paul, well he’s a 10/10 wood chopper, remember.

So here we are, another year in the country, not having to fret the cold snap, logs piled high in our wood shed like a glorious library, the panic within has subsided and has been replaced by an adequate amount of smugness so much so that when I pass by other houses with half empty wood sheds I can’t help but gloat a little and think to myself, “Good luck.”