There is a room filled with wood. Firewood stacked floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall. There is still room for more, and there will be more to come, but it has been empty for so long that looking at it now, I struggle to think of how to describe the feeling it brings me.
We ran out of firewood last January. Our first winter in Maine, we thought we had enough fallen trees on our property that once our stores ran out, we would be able to replenish our firewood ourselves. What we didn't realize--couldn't know, without having gone through a winter in Maine before, without having stories from our elders ringing in our ears--was the snow will cover the trees on the ground. The standing dead will be frozen. And it takes at least two years for newly felled trees to be dry enough--seasoned--to burn. Trying to find a firewood delivery in the dead of winter is hard. We watched our supply dwindle, and eventually die. Thanks to the generosity and kindness of friends, and the privilege electric heat (however minimal and costly it may be) we made it through until we could finally buy more. Of course the delivery came in between two major snowstorms, so was dumped onto 18" of snow and then had another foot fall on top of it, and we weren't able to bring it the house by the truckload, so used sleds to drag each day's wood across the driveway, and carried it across the creek and up the stairs armload by armload.
Maine has a learning curve.
I read things, about Halloween.
A photography blog calls it a holiday for the Creative. Pagan blogs talk about its history as the pagan new year. Wiccans and Catholics alike see it as a day where the veil between the living and dead is at its thinnest; a day we celebrate the dead and where they come the closest to visiting and communicating with us.
It is all of these things.
This year, it rained heavily at the end of October, before transitioning to several bluebird days in a row. Of warm days and cool nights. Weather that beckoned you outdoors; weather that ripped the last leaves off the trees and then shined a spotlight on the ground where they lay, still as bright and vibrant as they had been while waving above us in the air.
Winter is coming. More than a pop culture catchphrase.
Winter is coming, the trees whispered in our ears. Playful, tickling the hairs on our necks until we shivered, and were reminded of the coming cold.
Winter is coming, but not yet, not yet. The wheel of the year turns, sometimes fast and sometimes slow, but it spins, and does not jerk from one moment to the next.
There is a room filled with wood. Stacked by my children and their best friend, the day after we shared our home with our found family for food, drinks, and a haunted trail through the woods. After a party that had children laughing and cheering, adults making new friends, a small community that came together near the coast of Maine to celebrate the dead and revel in time spent outdoors before all is frozen.
It takes me almost a day before I finally realize the word the stacks of wood brings to mind: security.
The last year has died, but we do not have to.