Zen and the Art of Splitting Wood

This is the time of year when the woodpile beckons. Stacked, split logs of nicely seasoned oak are the outdoor version of putting food by for the winter — like jars of canned summer tomatoes, or jam made with the frozen berries that were picked in July and August. If there is a fireplace or wood stove in the house, the woodpile is an integral element of life in the off-season.

And splitting wood is a joy and a meditation all its own. It clears the mind of daily troubles and can be cathartic as well. Thwack! Suddenly that irritating person who was on the phone or in the office earlier in the day disappears. Thwack! Good exercise for the upper body. Thwack! There is going to be a nice fire in the living room tonight — and still seven chapters left in the book that you wish would never end.

And naturally, a good maul is essential to the task.