Gathering firewood. Wood warmed us three times — collecting, then stacking, and finally burning it.
We had a small dairy farm in north-west Tasmania, where our wood-heater burned continuously from May until October.
Piling our three young sons into the ute, it was a great day out, away from the farm to gather the logs for the next winter’s supply.
The two older boys aged 7 and 5, had their own tomahawks, whilst our youngest son was an early walker and explorer.
In the 1980s, car safety was far less strict, as we know; and when you lived in a rural area, you could almost get away with anything. We were definitely responsible parents, but life was certainly different then.
We attached the trailer to the tow-bar, with the two older boys sitting on the back of the ute.
Picnic bag, first aid kit, water bottles, chainsaw, fuel, axes and ropes were placed on the vehicle, with our toddler on my lap, and the family dog at my feet.
Among the trees, ferns and birds, it was always a special outing, combined with the hot, necessary work.
Having sawn, chopped, collected and stacked wood for hours, the heavily-laden trailer and ute always made the ride home slower.
It was common for the two young woodsmen to sit aloft the split logs for the return journey. They probably felt like kings on a throne, with a great sense of achievement, filthy and sweaty, holding on to the bar behind the cabin.
In the meantime, sleepy toddler and dog dozed in their usual places. No seatbelt or car seat for our youngster. Occasionally our second son would squeeze himself between my husband’s seat and the passenger seat, almost straddling the handbrake.
Home, to stack the wooden jigsaw puzzle, tired, hot and fulfilled.
Looking back I cringe at many choices we made in that era, but we survived it all.
Only one scar remains, where a light tomahawk was aimed at a branch — while the brother’s hand was still there! Evidence!