It gets cold in Montana so when we built the house, we had a big woodstove installed. Of course, all that “free” heat requires wood be cut, split and stacked. As I set each piece down and swung my axe, I realized things haven’t changed much since the 1970s.
Back in my High School and College days, cutting and selling firewood was my way of making a few dollars. Today its my way to keep from spending a few dollars. That’s part of the reason. Mostly I just like doing it. I like having the fire in the stove, the smell of wood smoke in the air. It just seems natural. It fits with where we live on the side of a mountain in Montana. Splitting firewood is also rather cathartic. There’s a natural rhythm, as the physical part takes over your mind is free to wander. Maybe it’s the fresh mountain air.
There’s also this good feeling that at 65 I am doing the same thing I was at 15. Ok, maybe a little slower but the job still gets done.
While swinging my axe the other day I pondered: How different was the world of today compared to the 1970s when I was doing this same thing in the woods around my father’s house?
Today’s headlines scream about the rise in oil prices. Some even blame foreign countries. Now look back. It’s 1973, there’s an oil embargo. Headlines scream about the rise in oil prices. Hell, the big worry was that gas stations will need new gas pumps since the price setting on the old pumps didn’t go over $.99.
In the 21st century we’ve learned to live in peace. Not. OK, we finally got our people out of Afghanistan but they are lighting fires again in Iran. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a negative economic, not to mention personal effect, reaching far beyond the borders of the conflict. It seems someone is shooting at someone for something all the time. When I was young, we didn’t have these kinds of conflicts. Oh wait, there was that Vietnam thing which didn’t end until 1975, the Yom Kippur War and a host of civil wars and conflicts in places you probably couldn’t find on a map. Maybe that living in peace thing was a bit optimistic.
At least our politicians have learned to work together for the common good. Back in the 70’s they were impeaching Nixon, Democrats took over the Congress from Republicans as people switched teams. Protestors took to the streets. There’s no political discord in our House of Representatives now. Camaraderie, selflessness, keeping the people first are what today’s elected officials are all about. No more partisan politics in the 21st century.
Politics aside, at least we have learned how to keep a strong, price-stable economy. Poor Gerald Ford, the only President never elected to be either Vice President or President, and Jimmy Carter, they had to deal with double digit inflation and a stagnant economy. Luckily for us, our elected officials have that completely under control.
As I put another log on the stump I use as a base it dawned on me that things might not have changed very much. Of course, sometimes that’s good. Splitting firewood is still a good way to spend time. And big, black dogs from the shelter can still be your buddy