Wednesday, December 27, 2006


-A Spontaneous Study-

I've been mentioning firewood so much these days because in every scrap of good weather remaining I'm trying to get all the logs cut and split, stacked and covered before the snow comes, if it ever comes again, though they say the weather will turn much colder tomorrow, so perhaps the snowline fast approaches. Thus it was that I was out there late this morning, having just finished chainsawing and splitting, standing amidst the resulting chaos when a big vanful of Kasumi, Kaya, Mitsuki and Miasa pulled up for a day of general hanging out at the old homestead.

With a chunk of split oak in each hand I walked up to the van just as the kids were emerging and Kaya was off into the house like a shot, while the twins were piqued with all this mess of sawdust and sectioned logs lying around and an axe in the stump, me all dusty and sweaty, leather gloved and wood-handed, I explained to them about the chain saw and turned to point out all the sections I'd just cut with the chainsaw from these very logs, this is all oak except this, this is beech, and this big stack is the split wood I'm going to start carrying up to the deck right now to use in the stove this afternoon and tonight to keep us all warm and when I turned back around the twins were gone...

They had abruptly and silently followed Kaya into the house, even in their extreme youth having instinctively experienced negative interest at right about the time my explanation began to sound like the recruitment of young slave labor for transport of firewood, which it sort of was, if the truth be known; but only with a purely pedagogical motive you understand, nothing distantly ulterior, but how the hell did they know, they've only just turned three, their wiles couldn't be as deep as mine, could they? Kaya of course is an old hand at the firewood craft and has been recruited before, so as I indicated she was upon arrival into the house like a shot.

None of the three yet know how to transform such moments into salary-generating opportunities the way Mick and I used to, by standing there forthrightly pondering the task at hand with narrowing eyes, emanating the consideration whether or not this sizeable assignment could in fact be worth our while, maybe even saying "Well..." just long enough to elicit the "I'll give you a nickel, dime, quarter," depending...

It was a stirring in some deep place, though, to see the task-avoidance skill so highly polished in two wee ones who haven't yet performed an actual task in all their three-year lives, yet they knew the first few bars of the spiel as soon as they heard it, and in English, no less! That aspect of human history must run deep indeed.

Our studies of genetics have only begun to scratch the surface.


Mick Brady said...

A perfect illustration of the rapidly increasing pace of evolution. While we would have been wasting precious seconds contemplating the worth of work at that age (not to mention the time wasted working), they have already bypassed that evolutionary dead-end, and have learned to head straight for far more rewarding things, just beyond the woodpile.

Not only that, they also seem to have realized that we who have been trained to perform those duties in an earlier era will continue to do so, further prolonging their pleasure, at just the right temperature. A clear case of survival of the giddiest.

Merry Xmas, bro.

Mary Lou said...

LOLOL Yep..gotta be genetic!

Joy Des Jardins said...

In some small corner of your must be very proud Robert. Ah genetics...funny how they come back to roost!

Maya's Granny said...

Now Robert, if you want them to help what you have to do is tell them that perhaps, if they prove that they are careful, when they are a year or two older you might let them help.

And when they get wise to that, the tactic of "as soon as I get this done we can do the thing you just asked about" carries you through a goodly number of years. Every Saturday, until my kids graduated from high school and left home, it was, "As soon as we get the house clean we will go to . . ." Not only did it work, but they had friends who would spend Friday night and pitch in on Saturday morning for the high treat of going on a picnic in the park.

Robert Brady said...

Thanks, MG, you gave me that while I still have time to use it!