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Carol Perkins: Cleaning the Woodpile

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By Carol Perkins

I asked Guy if he had ever cleaned a woodyard.

"Why would I clean a woodyard?" he responded. "What's the purpose?"

I knew he had never participated. I don't remember cleaning it at my house, but I vividly recall helping at my grandmother's house.

In preparation for the time when my grandfather and uncle would fire up the woodstoves, they would first make room for the new wood by tidying up the remains of the old ricks. Raking wood chips, restacking misplaced sticks of wood, and pulling weeds from the remaining rick was a chore nobody enjoyed. Snakes sometimes hid in the woodpile. I assumed cleaning up the woodpile was a common practice.

Their woodyard was not far from the house, with only a gravel drive that led to the tractor shed between them, so having an organized woodpile was important. Guests sitting out in the yard might notice! Over time, if not cleaned, the chips might pile up to the knees. Of course, those chips didn't go to waste. They were good fire starters.

My cousin Roberta and I spent half our summers in that woodyard creating spectacular playhouses.

We sorted through the ricks, laying aside the pieces that weren't "right," for one that resembled a chair. We liked the ones with a tiny limb or two still attached. We'd choose two level ones so we could make a table with a plank we would often find around the perimeter.

We "borrowed" our grandmother's broom and swept the dirt until it looked like a floor. (Nothing like wood dirt for flower beds!) When we couldn't get away with taking her broom, we broke low limbs with the most leaves off one of the many trees in the woods and used them for brooms. (We also made flowing skirts out of them by tucking the ends under our shirts!)

Among the many memories of being at Ma Bettie's house (even people in town called her by that name,) playing in the woodyard is among the best! Cleaning a woodpile was easier for the men because Roberta and I had swept it clean by the time they began to haul wood from the fields and stack it with the remaining ricks.

Carol's most recent book, based on a true story, The Case of the Missing Ring, is available through Amazon, both paperback and ebook. You can contact her at

This story was posted on 2021-03-18 11:13:37
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