I Am Woman, Hear Me Split Wood

A few weeks ago, Brendan casually mentioned he was buying an ax.

A few days after that, a book appeared on the kitchen table. It’s actual, I-swear-to-God title: “THE AX BOOK: The Lore and Science of the Woodcutter, a Guide to Axmanship, Wood and the Hand Tools of a Woodsman.”

Buying an ax is one thing. Bringing home a book that practically drips with testosterone is another. What was happening to Brendan? I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

But apparently Brendan isn’t the only male who longs to swing a splitting ax. This past weekend, when our friend Gene was at the cabin and heard about the opportunity to “split logs,” it was the most excited we’d seen him in days. Β The three ladies among us made catty remarks about city boys going all Paul Bunyan on us.

But then, we watched.

Gene and his mighty battle ax made mincemeat of our firewood, which, granted, is already kind of pre-cut and dry. But we noticed the shit-eating grin, and felt twinges of jealousy. It almost looked like it would generate the sort of feeling one gets when smashing plates against the floor or crashing cymbals together or popping a really big wad of bubble gum or smacking the stupid out of Sarah Palin….you get the idea. As we watched Gene whack the crap out of the wood, it looked — and sounded — wholly cathartic.

And entirely something we, females, could do, too. I had assumed it required more brute strength than we ladies could muster, but I’m a feminist, damnit, time to break my own long-held stereotypes. And where did I get this idea, anyway? My great-grandmother Lizzie was so strong and independent she could have kicked all of our asses at wood chopping. When she was in her 60s!

Time to channel some Lizzie. I looked at my pal Brenda. “You’re gonna try, right?”

“Shit yeah,” she replied. And we were off. First task, select the victim.

Then, she found the right distance and stance by doing a few practice chops, where she didn’t swing hard.

Then BAM! CHOP THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF THAT WOOD. YEAH FIGHT YEAH ARRRRRGHH. I AM WOMAN!

This face says it all. Girlfriend split that log on the second try!

Next up, my turn….

Well, first I needed a lesson, of course. Thank god for men and their axes! And no, I’m not giggling.

Then, when I finally got my turn, I showed the wood who’s boss. (It only took me 8 or so whacks.)

Elated and floating on a high of awesomeness, what did we do?

We celebrated our new-found skill with beer, swigging it as lady-like as possible.

(Brenda has her hood up to ward off the mosquitoes who were attracted to our powerful aura.)

67 thoughts on “I Am Woman, Hear Me Split Wood

  1. doranyc says:

    Now I’m pissed that your camera crapped out and I didn’t insist on getting mine out to get pics of my attempts. Which WERE, for the most part, successful, gentle readers. Just for the record…

    So proud of my baby, all manly and shit.

  2. Bethan Stritton says:

    Hahahaha, raddest of the rad! Love it. Since we moved house (and acquired a log burner) my other half reguarly does The Man Thing and goes to chop wood. He always comes back with his chest slightly more puffed out and a look of rugged “don’t worry, we shall keep warm on this bitter stormy night” look on his face, even though it’s just a cool night in June and drizzling a bit. Loved that you girls got out there and chopped wood. I want the “I AM WOMAN” look too! Right, where’s the axe … ?

  3. PCC Advantage says:

    Haha!! These photos are hilarious! Kudos to you all…I’ve never been able to chop wood a day in my life. I should probably buy that ax book and read how to do it… πŸ˜‰

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  4. Mikalee Byerman says:

    Such a fun post. Love the expressions — shit-eating grin and exuberance, personified!

    BTW, I recently bought an ax at Home Depot for my mother’s birthday (long story — probably deserving of a blog post in itself, but since I blog about my post-crazy-divorce reinvention, an ax story may not be the best idea…). Anyhow, I’ll never forget the expression on the clerks face when I asked where the axes are. Priceless…

    Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Kathryn McCullough says:

    This is a brilliantly funny and important post! Thank God it was freshly pressed! I love your writing and the stunning splitting of sterotype into the stuff of fire wood! May that action fuel your feminist fire! You GO GIRL!
    Kathy

  6. sweetridgesisters says:

    This is awesome. I love splitting wood. It is far less about brute strength and more about the ability to look at the wood and read it, looking at the cracks and knowing where to swing to chop it cleanly. There is something so innately satisfying about watching a log cleanly split.

  7. Forbidden Fruit says:

    I guess this is how my one year old feels when he rips off newspaper, all drooling with delight over it (: I’d also want to show the wood who’s the boss since I’m in GREAT need of some catharsis! Thanks to motherhood.

  8. Jim says:

    Loved this post, the writing, the photos and, of course, the subject. You young city folks (I assume city) look good chopping wood. One tech point from an old country boy for the guys and gals: hands closer together and lower on the ax handle for more power AND more control. Just sayin’ . . .

  9. Blondy Magee says:

    We have an ax my parents gave us when my husband and I moved in together. I taught him how to use it. From that point on there was a lot of wood chopping in our first home. Late at night, after a few drinks, we would head out to the garage with one of our friends and chop wood. Who would have thought that some of our favorite times and best memories would have been spent chopping wood?

  10. Angie~Lah says:

    I’ve never had the urge to swing an axe before now. You’ve inspired me to borrow my aunt’s axe and start chopping at random, innocent trees.

  11. Sharp says:

    haha nice.. I have a female friend she’s about 1m55 and she wanted to try this as well…
    Let us say that the result was that the axe was tossing her in stead of the other way around..

    But.. funny πŸ˜›

    Good job on chopping wood! It’s a gift :D! πŸ˜‰

  12. adlccgrimm says:

    nothing like the great outdoors and a cool drink after!

    I’m afraid my wood cutting skills are minimal despite the fact that i live on a huge farm, it has been a chore i avoided. You’ve gave me the urge to go pick up an axe and give it a go!

  13. Gabby says:

    I’m with jim on the tech tip, and if you use a wedge and a maul, even an eleven year old can split wood….
    One winter my husband and I took down standing deadwood from a friends woodlot,we cut and split 12 cords, some by hand and some with a hydraulic splitter, which, strangely enough,is also satisfying!

  14. scandalousmuffin says:

    I want to try! But I live in NYC. I wonder if there’s an “urban woodcutters association” around here. Heh.

  15. TL says:

    This is a great post! It made me laugh! Especially this part: or smacking the stupid out of Sarah Palin….you get the idea” You are hilarious, and I love your humor. Split that wood, girl. Show the men how it’s done.

  16. Miriam says:

    Over here we spell it “axe” … so weird to see it without an ‘e’! πŸ™‚ That looks like fun (though a little dangerous) … and congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  17. boomers1earth says:

    YEAH! I was a young woman in the 60’s and we were all about “woman power.” But hey, let’s take it all the way – let’s see the guys dive right into grocery shopping, doing dishes and changing those diapers! YOU GO GIRL!

  18. Alan says:

    Split your wood with an axe on the coldest days of winter. It’ll fly apart for you. Cuts like butter on cold days.

  19. stace8383 says:

    Man, that sounds like the most awesome day! I grew up on a farm, but wood-splitting duty was always – ha – SPLIT between my dad and my brother, and I never got to try!

  20. abandonculture says:

    A lot of the manual work we used to do for thousands of years up until the last century is actually lots of fun and good for mind, body and soul (some of it of course not so much).

    I always find it funny to see people packed into hermetically sealed gyms in the city after ‘work’ (which is actually just brain work only), pounding away at the machines trying to compensate for the muscle atrophy and weight gain caused by their sedentary office jobs. Jobs which often pay not much more than the rent, food and fuel bills anyway.

    The most satisfying log split I think is when the axe uses up all of its energy to split the log so that it just kisses the chopping block below. Mmmmmm πŸ˜‰

    But PLEASE don’t you or your friends get carried away with your ‘woodland ways’ and start chain-sawing trees without adequate training + protective equipment. Chain saws = death if you don’t know what you are doing! Sorry I just had to say that because it’s true.

  21. milezaway says:

    I own a log burner which sits pride of place in our lounge, at first I thought it was a case of how hard you hit the log but turned out it was down to the way the grain in the wood ran and the way the tree grew. Once I had mastered working out which way around to put the log I found splitting them simple and a very good stress buster!

  22. Laura says:

    That looks like so much fun! I’m not sure I could get through a day of chopping wood without breaking out into the Monty Python Lumberjack song, though.

  23. mengler says:

    i personally think that beer at the end of any endever makes it way better πŸ™‚
    glad you chopped wood all the women around here are only concerned about their nails -_-

    were you sore the next day? cuz that crap is hard lol

  24. carrie m says:

    Great post!

    This reminds me of Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life”. In that book she talks about splitting wood and how it was an integral part of her remote writing life. I’ll always remember her advice: don’t aim for the wood, aim through the wood.

    Congrats on becoming an official Woodcutter!

  25. halfwayto50 says:

    Haha! So that’s why guys do things like chop wood? The exhilarating feeling they get following a good slpit?! Hell, I’d do any manly task if it meant I got to have a beer as a celebration. Honey… we’re getting an ax!

  26. Kenda says:

    I grew up chopping wood when we were camping. It is so fun! Glad you got to experience the fun and adrenaline pumping element of chopping wood!!

  27. ellen says:

    Love it.. funny. I can’t help but blog about our wood pile from time to time… something rewarding about cutting up some wood! Cheers.

  28. backalleymomma says:

    I remember chopping wood as a kid. It was one of our chores.
    Becareful you only hit the wood. Watch out for metal like nails etc.
    Don’t miss the wood & hit yourself. That would be disastrous.
    Also careful anyone who is near by the wood might fly & you will get hit. ouch!
    Be safe, be careful.

  29. realanonymousgirl2011 says:

    Ha ha I love the look on your friend’s face! Wood chopping looks pretty rigorous but I’ve always wanted to try it and be as precise as those lumber jacks knocking them back in one whack!

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