Thursday, 11 December 2014

Collected Wood

This evening, as usual now, we are burning mostly well-seasoned ash from Yealand Storrs, a little holly too, some dried-enough beech from that big tree blown down last winter in Greaves Park, and the occasional oddments of driftwood from the tideline on the east side of the Lune between Aldcliffe and Conder Green. With Johnny Howlingale striding past, the draught on the stove is turned to almost nothing, but we're warm.

And a friend has just phoned - it's his wife's aunt who owns the woodland where we get our wonderful ash - and he's given me persistent giggles by describing how last week he went to that same woodland on his own with his bow saw (because he's scared reluctant to use his chainsaw when he's on his own), and had carefully chosen an "oak" with "no branches and therefore dead", he said, only to find that it wasn't dead at all. Except it is now, because he cut right through it. So we'll get it next winter. No less daft is the fact that I know which tree he's talking about - and it's a wych elm.

Wych means pliant, referring to branches, from the Old English wic(e) from a Germanic root meaning bend, related to weak. (And then you remember your German O level and that weich means soft). Those old folks knew their wood allright though, didn't they.