Childhood Family

Baby, it’s (already too) cold outside

The weather is getting cold, which means it’s time for getting the fireplace into the action.

In case you are wondering what I think is cold, it is currently 55 degrees outside, and I consider this almost too cold for humans to venture out in.

Those of you who love colder temperatures, good on you. You are a hardy, robust people and the reason our lands were settled. Were it up to me, we as a nation would probably be concentrated somewhere around Tampa.

Anywho, it’s fire season, so of course it is time to stock up on firewood. I don’t have a set firewood acquisition strategy. It varies from year to year. Last year, it was grab a bundle at the grocery store every few days. Previous years I’ve headed into the woods with my dad and some friends, armed with chainsaws and axes and filled up truckloads of firewood, and then drove said trucks home fueled solely by the near record amounts of testosterone produced.

This year, I opted for a middle of the road approach. There’s a guy near my house who has a front yard full of firewood for sale. There is a large board out front with his phone number spray painted on it. Personally, I find things advertised for sale on giant signs with spray paint to be a part of our treasured Americana.

So I called the number on the sign. No answer. Recording began. At the beep, I said, “Hi, I was calling about the firewood. Whenever you get this message, if you could…”

“Hello?” I heard.

“Oh, hi, are you there?” I said.

“I’m here. You were calling about the firewood?”

We chatted for a few minutes about price and pickup, and I told him I’d be back at his house in about a half hour.

I hung up the phone and looked at my son, who had a puzzled look on his face.

I was pretty sure he wasn’t confused about the firewood acquisition, since we had just had this conversation:

ME: We should call that guy and get some firewood from him.

HIM: Yep.

So I said to him, “What’s the matter?”

My son shook his head. “How … how did he answer while you were leaving a message?”

It was at that point it dawned on me that my son has always lived in a world with electronic voicemails, rather than answering machines.

I explained to him how answering machines worked, and how back in my day we had to actually dial a big wheel to make a call, and you didn’t even know who was calling, and even if you did want it to go straight to voicemail, you had to wait for it to ring a whole four times, not just push a magical “decline” button. Kids today.

Once we came back from our trip down Memory Lane, we were poised to load up the back seat of my car with firewood. Normally, I would use my wife’s SUV, but she was going to be gone for, like, two hours. And I have, well, no patience. I got it in my head that we were getting firewood, so by goodness we are loading up the back seat of a Honda Civic with it.
I covered the back seat with a tarp and we headed to the gentleman’s house. I parked my car and gave the man some money. I grabbed a few logs from our section of purchased wood and walked it about 15 feet to my car. I then said out loud, “Yeah, that was dumb. I should move my car up to the pile of wood.” My son and the firewood man both nodded.

In no time, my son and I had the wood unloaded at our house and covered with a tarp. We have had our first fire of the year, and it was glorious. Tonight’s weather will dip even lower, to a practically unsurvivable 48. But it will be toasty inside, with a fire roaring. And I can spend the evening regaling my kids with other foreign ways of life from my childhood, such as when we didn’t have cable, and when we had to write letters by hand, and worst of all, that awful time it got into the 30s.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.

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