Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way
“So I lit a fire. Isn’t it good: Norwegian Wood?”
—Lennon and McCartney
Elsewhere in these Speedreaders pages, I discussed my predilection for reviewing books that were found serendipitously. On the search for some brass bolts and nuts, while walking through the local hardware emporium, I came across this book. I have a good friend who is quite the fancier of all things relating to trees and wood, and this looked like a perfect gift for him. Frankly, I was not prepared to find this book so attractive—in its conception, its handsome graphics, and its capsule history of the forests, wood harvesting, and wood use in Norway. Mytting also exhibits a philosophical bent throughout the text. This is not surprising as he is a prolific and acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction. And it is quite evident that he truly loves chopping, stacking, and drying wood.
Mytting (b. 1968) is hardly some hidebound traditionalist. His research has taken him to the biology of forests; the meditative benefits of wood chopping; the craft and art of stacking wood; and the environmental concerns of wood burning, both for home owners and large-scale, commercial use. There is a chapter on chainsaws. The photographs—along with the “how to”—of various stacking arrangements show the fine aesthetics of his endeavors.
Perhaps the most appealing parts of the book are the biographies of several of those who are deep into the art of wood use. These are hardy people appearing to have great strength of character. They would make good companions through a harsh Norwegian winter, sitting, perhaps, by a cozy, warm and expertly made fire.
And if you are interested in such facts as the heating values of different trees or where to purchase the right stove, information and charts are found in the last several pages. This book is in the tradition of John McPhee—taking what many might consider a mundane topic and with solid research and a lively and thoughtful writing style transforming such a topic into something interesting, informative, important, and even somehow dramatic.
For those of us farther south, there is always a romantic, almost nostalgic, feeling for the Scandinavian countries, and Norwegian Wood Chopping surely radiates (please excuse the pun) such sentiment. Recommended—even for those whose interest in wood chopping in Norway may be less than negligible.
Copyright 2017, Bill Wolf (speedreaders.info).