We don't have a wood stove. But it is important you understand that my husband loves wood stoves. He wants to put one in our house. We've lived places with wood stoves before, but this not-so-new house in which we currently live doesn't have one.
But he has dreams.
So one weekend, he decided we were going to go wood cutting, so that when we did get a wood stove, we had wood to burn in it.
This was aspirational wood cutting, but I didn't challenge him on it. After all, I too am guilty of aspirational activities. I had a period in my life (I'm much better now, although not fully recovered) when I was guilty of aspirational vegetable purchasing. I really thought each week would be the week I did something with snap peas. Turns out, that week has yet to arrive.
So, we prepped the truck, tested the chainsaw, gathered the various liquids to keep it running, got our gloves, our ear pro, we packed lunch, and then we were off.
But first we had to go buy some ethanol free gas. We had stopped at the hardware store, but their chainsaw mixes were idiotically expensive. So we rolled into a gas station where I refused to get out of the car.
"I'm not dealing with these people on my free time," I said.
"Why?" my husband asked.
"I bought tires for a work car from them. It was a thing, and at least then I was being paid to deal with them."
My husband knew enough to not ask more. He said he would pay, and I read my book.
A while later, he came back.
"Well, they took my man card," he said.
"You were buying chainsaw fuel. How did they ding you for that?" I asked, not looking up from my book, and extremely satisfied with my decision to not get out of the car.
"I thanked them for having ethanol-free gas and told them the hardware store price for the pre-mix. They scoffed at me even considering buying pre-mixed and told me if I knew what I was doing, I'd buy the fuel at the airport because that was the highest octane."
"So they sell ethanol-free gas, but only pansies buy it?" I said.
"THEY TOOK MY MAN CARD! I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH OCTANE."
I went back to reading.
We drove for about forty minutes before the classic adventure situation happened. My husband found the shortest route to the wood cutting area, but that road wasn't actually a public access point. So we turned around, drove a while, and eventually got on the BLM land.
When we'd started this adventure, my biggest concern was getting struck by lightning. It was monsoon season, and as soon as we hit the high plateau it started to pour. My husband though, he was concerned about getting stuck on the muddy roads. He'd thrown his tire chains in the truck for good measure.
We hit the dirt road, made of red clay, and started up the slope into the wood cutting area. The sun was out now, and the road was in good condition, despite the recent rain. We eased up, up, up, until we found several standing dead piñons which were legal to cut. We stopped.
I set up the truck, and my husband pulled the chainsaw starter.
It purred, and purred, and purred, but it did not start. He pulled it again, and again, and again.
He started to curse. I ate a peach. He kept cursing. The chainsaw kept purring, but it did not start.
I walked around to the juniper trees and gathered berries. I had been wanting to experiment with making my own gin flavors.
I moved from tree to tree, dropping the powdery fruits into a paper bag. The sounds of a chainsaw that wouldn't start paired with the muffled curses of my husband drifted across the high desert.
It began to sprinkle. Then it began to pour.
I went back to the truck and ate some hummus. My husband climbed into the back. He looked at the chainsaw and then at the road. It wasn't muddy yet, but how long did we have?
He'd been messing with the chainsaw for at least an hour. It had run before we left, and now it didn't.
"Let's go," he said.
We packed up the truck and headed back the way we came. At a high point, I got cell service.
"You want to use the Google?" I asked.
The rain stopped. I rolled down my window. The piñon and juniper forest smelled amazing. My husband clicked at my phone. I went back to reading. He got out of the truck, messed with the saw some more, got back in, didn't speak and kept driving.
Soon we stopped again. He didn't say anything, got out of the truck, and went back to messing with the saw. I again went back to reading. About a half an hour later, the saw came to life.
I set my book down, it was getting good, but real life was suddenly much more interesting.
"What happened?" I asked.
He became sheepish then pointed to the old gas can.
"It's bad gas. It's three years old. It won't work... I should have known."
"But the new low-octane, low-testosterone gas does work?"
"Well, I guess we'll get some wood yet."
And we proceeded to cut down dead trees. The sun came out, it got humid. My husband sweat through his leather boots. We never saw another person, and hours later, the truck was full of wood and we were out of water, unless we wanted to wring out my husbands shirt and pants, which were so saturated in sweat he looked like he'd jumped in a lake.
"I think you worked harder than me," I told him.
He looked at the wood I'd moved and then stacked into the truck.
"I think we both worked hard."
"But I didn't sweat through my boots. I didn't know that was possible."
We began our drive home. I rolled up the window and a bug caught in the door frame became a smear on the glass. We got home, unloaded the wood, put the truck back together, and went out for dinner. My husband's came about fifteen minutes before mine. I watched him eat it, thought about the bug I'd killed and burst into tears.
My husband didn't react. He gave me the side eye and calmly asked what was happening. I mumbled about the bug.
My husband offered me one of his slices of pizza. I refused to eat it. He watched me impassively.
"You know," he said. "It looks like you did work pretty hard, and you should have some of this pizza. Or maybe you're right. The fact you are crying over a bug isn't because you are calorie depleted."
He went back to his own food. I glared at him.
"Maybe you should consider religion," he finally said. "Have you thought about becoming a nun?"
He pushed the plate closer.
"Pizza or life as a nun. You choose."
I ate the pizza.