A Shade of Ash # 7 – Son of a Birch

Hey everybody,

Hope you’re having an awesome day!

Every picture tells a story or is a key to one. – Ash

Whenever I see a pile of wood by the side of the road or in someone’s front yard, it instantly takes me back to when I was kid. I believe I was around ten years old. Back that humbling day when I tried to prove to my Uncles that I was just as big and tough as they were. A coming of age moment of my life with a Shade of Ash humour that I will never forget. A bunch of wood grouped together sets the scene and some of you already know this, but I grew up with my grandparents, so my Uncles are like my brothers. There’s five of them. I made six, and the youngest in that dynamic and because of that, I was considered “Mommy’s Boy”. *I called my grandmother, Mom, by the way.

OK, Cue the wavey time-travel lines, fade to the 80’s.

Firewood was a primary source of heat for us growing up, so from time to time, that meant the whole family would have to pitch in and help bring freshly cut wood from my grandfather’s boat up to the front yard to be packed and stacked. Every now and again, my grandfather accompanied by two or three of the Uncles would travel by boat to some remote area to cut down the wood. Then, once they had a load, they would return home where the wood still had to be sawed up and stored away. None of that process involved me though. I got off the hook for stuff like that. Hey! It’s not me, my grandmother just wouldn’t have it back then. She’d look at my Uncles, each of them, and tell them to go on outside and not bother me. “Leave Ashley alone, he’s alright, go on, your fathers waiting.” She’d say. This rotted my uncles of course. Now, they wouldn’t say much in retort and just went on to work. Though like prisoners knowing all the blind spots of a prison yard, they too knew when to get in a few licks and wrestling moves behind my grandparents backs to make sure I knew what’s up. Until that one day, where I had enough of it.

Nope, I could not take the teasing anymore. I’m ten now. It was about time I grew up and start acting like the big boys. I did see a hair on my chest a few days ago, I’m ready for this. So, the next time I overheard that a load of wood was on its way, I promised myself I would go help, not say a word, just go do it. Finally teach my Uncles a lesson and show them what’s really up. And…in the process score even more grandmother chits which would drive them even more nuts. A few days passed, and then came the day where more wood was to arrive. I watched from the living room window and as soon as I saw my grandfather along with my Uncles come steaming up the harbour with a new load of wood onboard, I began to get dressed. I took out some old clothes, put them on and went out to the porch to get the rest of my newly designated wood chucking clothes. Made sure it was plaid to be authentic. I passed my grandmother in the kitchen, and as I went by, she had a strange somewhat confused look on her face. She right away asked where I was going. I told her. I told her that I had enough of the tormenting from “the boys” and I wanted to start doing my part around the house. I told her I was done with them always giving me a hard time when it came to me helping with household chores. Her face moved toward a smile. Yeah, she looked somewhere between apprehensive and proud. Like she wanted to stop me, but was at the same time happy I was seeing something like this through. She patted my head, gave me a kiss, and told me to be careful. Yes indeed, I’m doing this.

As I rounded the corner of our house, I was met by the eyes of my five Uncles, my grandfather, and my Aunt was there too. To be expected, they were shocked and bug-eyed. I could feel them looking at me trying to figure what was happening. What they were seeing right before their eyes. Like it was spiritual. Without so much as a word, and not allowing anyone the chance to fire off a shot at me, I strolled on down the path straight for the front of the yard where the wood junks were scattered. The only thing I said was, “Back at it people, nothing to see here, just me helping with the wood. Woo-Hoo! So, now nobody can say anything, anymore, ever again…OK?” They smiled at each other. Each of them trying so hard to hold back their laughter. Only, I didn’t care. I had this built up in my mind for far too long. I was seeing it through no matter what. Like I said, this is time I teach them all a lesson. They’ll see what I can do, you watch.

Finally, the attention is off of me as they settle back in to their chores. With that, I grabbed my first junk of wood, held it firmly in my hands, and with everything a ten-year-old frame could muster up, I threw the junk right where it needed to go. Then, as I watched the wood fly through the air as if it was simultaneously acting as my very own right of passage. Like a boy into a man. Like a kid getting his hands chafed and dirty for the benefit of the sheer survival of his family. Yes, as that huge earthy junk of birch flew high through the air, I thought I was king of the world. Look grandmother, I’m just like the boys. I’m all grown up, I’m contributing. That few seconds of my life was like slow-motion for me. As all those happy thoughts were flying around in my head, apparently, so was a rouge junk of wood heaved by my Aunt. It caught me right in side of the skull just over the ear. I grabbed my head and with tears slowly building up in my eyes, I turned to everybody and said, “That’s it, I’m out!!!” And, from that day forward, I’ve never touched another junk of wood again, and no one has ever asked me to.

LOL, yup. Nowadays, I see a piece of birch or a stack of wood in general, that very moment comes front and center. I’ve thought about that story a lot, for many reasons, one special reason is my grandmother and what she used to say. She used to say that she knew I wouldn’t be working labour-y jobs like most of my uncles did and still do. Not that’s a bad thing. No, she said she could always envision me with a pen and paper in my hands sitting behind a desk somewhere. For the longest time I pondered that you know? Asked myself what she could have meant by that? Now, fast-forwarding through my life a little bit and being both a Paralegal along with someone who is crazy passionate about everything writing, I finally can see her vision. To tell the truth, I’ve known that for awhile now. It was shortly after she died, it came to me one day in thought. It’s one of the very things that keeps me motivated actually. My chance to continue to prove her right. It also makes me extremely proud to think she saw that sort of potential in me, and at that young stage of my life. I hope I’m still holding up my end. One thing is for sure, I do wish she was still around to read some of it. To see how far I’ve come, and to see how far I will go. That’s my fire. Thanks, Nan/Mom, this post is for you.

Folks, that’s it for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed my little tale. It was a blip that popped up when I came upon this photo over the weekend. Oh, and my Uncles are the best, I needed a villain for this story. Although, this did happen the way that I said, in reality, 99% of the time it was them taking the bullet for me. They have done a lot for me in my life. I would never change anything about the way I grew up. Ever.

Before I go, I ask how about you? Got something that you see all the time that as soon as you do it zips you all the way back to a different chapter of your life? Make you think of someone or something? Something you will never forget? Or, maybe it’s just something that has a story or a person attached to it? If so, please I’d love to hear about it.

Take care all!


6 thoughts on “A Shade of Ash # 7 – Son of a Birch

  1. That’s quite a story. Lucky you.
    I remember being about the same age and helping with the same thing. Yes, I was also made fun of because I found physical labor annoying and tiring. It did not help when my parents decided to pay my cousin and not me (because I lived there)…

    Liked by 2 people

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