The Learning Process

No matter how often one has done something – anything – there is always room for improvement, for making an action more efficient, less energy consuming, or simply more elegant or joyful.

For 16 months now, we have foraged for our own firewood, sawn and split it by hand, and I have really enjoyed it a lot, to the extent that I have on various occasions declined the offer of a chainsaw.

It was this morning in the brilliant sunshine, sawing through a particularly hefty piece of pinewood, when I suddenly had a childhood memory of my father teaching me the finer aspects of using a bow saw. You can saw on the pull as well as on the push, he says. Keep your hand relaxed when you pull back the saw and it will not jump. See if you can create the same amount of sawdust on each side of the wood. I remember being quite obsessed for a while with measuring the two piles of sawdust against each other.

While thinking of my dad, I practise his advice from many years ago. Gradually my hand relaxes and I can hear the even sound on the pushing and pulling. I’m through the wood much faster and with much less effort. The wind takes the sawdust, so I don’t know exactly how evenly balanced my movements were…

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