Firewood Man

I met a man who was hauling firewood in a trailer. It was the same man I had met a year ago who was then assembling the greatest eccentric stack of firewood I have ever seen. It was not really a stack. Rather, it was a labyrinth of ten or 15 or 20 cords in the front yard of his rented cabin that overlooked the ocean.

The previous year he had told me he had been recently released from prison after serving 14 years for rape. He was starting over and firewood was his only means of earning an income. His sister had set him up with the cabin, a truck, a trailer and a chainsaw and then he went to work.

We had discussed his labyrinth in considerable detail and his methods of finding and cutting up wood that he didn’t have to pay for. He was a wood scavenger and scavenged at the beaches, the rivers, the clearcuts, the shoulders of country roads. His firewood sold for $200 a cord—cash only—and he had orders from 50 miles in every direction. His firewood had a stellar reputation—never green. He also helped stack it. And the customers loved his firewood dog, a large poodle.

Now a year later, he was moving the last cords of the labyrinth to his new home a mile away. He had bought a rundown manufactured home on a half acre—with cash. He could expand his base of firewood operations there. He might even open a bank account.

He was smiling. We shook hands. He had started over with firewood and a dog. He drove away and I stood there in complete awe, humbled.

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