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Thursday, December 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 34.0° F  Overcast
The Daily
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Citizen Dave: The satisfaction in a wood pile
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Most of us in this town make our livings by reading, writing, and going to meetings. I have a theory that career happiness is inversely related to the number and length of the meetings we attend.

In any event, I love to read and write and I put up with the meetings, but it's good to get some balance in your life by doing stuff that's physical and tangible. Running is a good thing, but what do you have to show for it besides a few less pounds around the middle?

I once built a cabinet from scratch using my own plans and figuring out all the details as I went along. It now serves as my bar, so it has special status in my home and I visit it as often as I can. I know every flaw and every triumph of carpentry in it. It's a daily reminder of a tangible, useful accomplishment. I feel good just being around it, even when I don't use its contents.

I feel the same way about the basement windows on our old house that I'm stripping, fixing and repainting.

But for pure tactile, three dimensional satisfaction I have to agree with my friend Jordy Jordahl that there is nothing like cutting and stacking firewood. Jordy and I and our friend Karl spent a day last week at Jordy's farm doing nothing but putting up firewood for next winter, and probably a winter or two thereafter.

I wouldn't tell Jordy this, but I would probably pay him for the honor of splitting firewood. Now, I don't want to leave any macho misimpressions. This is not Abe Lincoln-style log splitting going on here. We use a hydraulic splitter. But there's still plenty of heavy lifting getting the slices of trunks of old maples and oaks to the splitter and then there's all that stacking.

I was particularly proud of the sturdiness, straightness and symmetry of my wood piles. The idea is to stack the wood so that air gets at it and it can dry faster.

This fall, I'll walk around Jordy's farm with my deer rifle cradled in my arms and I'll see those neat stacks of firewood, ideally covered with a little snow, and I'll think back to the hot summer day that we built it. Jordy says that he sometimes grabs a piece of firewood in the dead of winter, and he can actually remember the exact tree that it came from. That beats going to meetings any day.

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