One of the late summer jobs is to get a few tons of well seasoned oak and ash logs from our neighbour Roger, who lives with his niney-six year old mother in the farm next door to ours. We have known him for twenty five years and he has always had the same smile, the same little old Renault 4L and the same rythm to his unchanging, but contented life.
The whole process has a satisfying logic about it. Once the the grapes have been harvested, the fields ploughed and sown and cows are in for the winter, Roger is out in all weathers felling trees in the valley below his big pastures. He seasons the wood for a year or two so he has a rotation system. He will bring huge loads of sawn logs up to the farm and stack them (sometimes with the help of his aged mother!) and then spends days splitting them with his cousin’s log splitter. Then he re-stacks everything.
We consider ourselves very lucky to get our wood from him since he only has a few word of mouth customers and you need to get your order in before his year's supply is spoken for. Then, one day in late summer, he backs his tractor and trailer through the fairly narrow entrance into our courtyard and helps us unload and stack the logs which he has just loaded himself onto the trailer. It’s a very labour intensive and exhausting job for Roger – he must feel that he knows each log personally. But for us it is so satisfying to know that our winter fuel grew just down the valley and has only journeyed up the lane and round into our barn.
It was thirsty work on an unseasonably warm afternoon. Roger doesn’t drink wine except at the vendange, but accepted a few glasses of elderflower lemonade, which is considered rather weird and exotic around here, but always enjoyed.