Splitting headaches

By: Julie Cotton

You guys have no idea how much I wish I was still embracing those hideous Jane Fonda fluoro leotards and leg warmers that I donned in the ’80s. I mean, I was never really fit and mostly those ole “grapevine” moves provoked inner thoughts of sauvignon blanc but, nevertheless, it would have put me in a better position for my annual wood splitting day recently. As far as horror stories go, this day was Stephen King material. It started out poorly when I jumped in the truck and most unfortunately got it bogged in the paddock before I even started splitting the wood. At that moment, fine words proceeded to freely flow out of the husband’s mouth, along the lines of, “You stupid beep. What the hell did you drive through there for?” I mean, honestly, how’s a gal supposed to know that part of the paddock was swampy? But don’t worry, his free-flowing expletives were soon throttled with, “If you don’t stop growling me, you will be splitting this beeping wood on your own shortly!” With that sorted, this woman glued herself to that wretched splitting machine for the rest of the day, my runty unfit body lifting and splitting about 18 tons of pine, while my husband stacked it in the wood shed and my children floated between helping and whinging. With about 20 coils left, I snapped, turned off that stupid noisy machine, jumped in the ute and crawled my broken body into the shower. There I sat on the shower floor in all my pathetic-ness, eyes closed, dreaming of fluoro leotards that once were, and the complications of my life that come from not having chosen a career path in lumberjacking. Next minute my silent thoughts were interrupted by my 11-year-old, reminding me that I had promised to take her to a friend’s house for a sleepover. I had, of course, promised as such, but at that point I felt like it would have been far more enjoyable to stick red hot pokers in my eyes than tackle that 40-minute drive. Then I heard her yell, “You got this mum”, so I slugged my way into the bedroom, threw on some clothes and grabbed a couple of cold beers out the fridge. Driving down that suspicious newly-sheeted rural road, the electronics on my dash started going nuts. Thinking it was just my ABS braking system chucking a tantrum over its ability to handle this junky-looking metal sheeting, I kept driving. After all, there was no way I was going to allow a few sparkly dash lights to get in the way of my couch caressing this battered body. However, flashing lights are one thing, but smoke coming from the rear of the car somewhat escalated my care factor from nought to 100, so I pulled over. That goddamn crappy razor-sharp sheeting had blown my tyre to smithereens, and I was in fact driving on the rim! On the side of that deserted rural road in front of a car that possesses only “running flats” with no spare tyre, I reached for my beer, fell to my knees, held it up high and sank that liquor down my throat in one fell swoop. The rest of the thoughts from that battered woman on the side of the road are in no way fit for this G-rated publication. I could barely move my muscles for a week after this episode. Although I can’t see myself becoming a gym bunny anytime soon, in order to stave off any future wood-splitting hurdles, I do take complete comfort in every log I throw on my fire that keeps me warm now.

Julie Cotton


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