I’ve read and heard Proverbs 6:6-8 many times in my life. Usually it has been in the context of being a good steward of financial resources. This summer, though, I think I am gaining a new insight into the Lord’s wisdom as displayed in this verse. The ant necessarily is thinking about the long, cold winter ahead as she gathers her food and stores it. I find myself doing the same as we bring home our garden’s bounty and preserve it for the winter. There is more involved, though, in the concept of being prepared for winter.
It is 91 degrees outside with nary a breeze to stir the air. Inside we have 12 fans scattered through the house to try to make some breeze to alleviate this heat. We do have a few window A/C units, but the cost of running them is prohibitive, and we have not even installed them this year. The last thing I am thinking about is firing up the wood stove.
And yet, that is exactly what my husband IS thinking about…how to keep us all warm when this weather departs and leaves us cold temperatures in its stead. Last winter was our first full winter using just wood to heat our home. Our furnace is as old as our home (over 20 years) and the duct work is trashed. Last winter we realized that the the cross-piece that connected the two sides of our mobile home’s ducts was on the ground…again. We kept feeling cold breezes wafting across our feet. It doesn’t matter how warm a room is, when your feet are cold, it just feels cold! So my husband decided to seal all the floor openings to the duct system. He went about it in quite an ingenious way–he screwed boards across the bottom of the openings, but he did it from the top. I couldn’t even explain how he went about it, but the end result works–the ducts are sealed. The places where the ducts were aren’t very pretty–more like a wooden scar in the floor–but I will gladly take warm and functional over pleasing to the eye and cold.
We received a call the other day. My husband’s brother wanted to know if we needed firewood. His wife’s parents had a tree fall across their swimming pool. My husband and two of my girls went over there this morning to load his big trailer with wood. It took the better part of the day, and the trailer is full. They will return again in the next few days to get the rest of that massive tree. My husband’s brother also had two trees fall in his yard that he would be delighted for us to take.
Once all the logs are here, we will have to borrow a wood-splitter to cut them to the right size for our stove. My husband dreams of owning his own wood-splitter. Some men dream of owning sports cars. I am fortunate indeed! Last year, before we found a wood-splitter to borrow, my girls were spending their evenings with the ax and maul trying to split the logs into proper-sized pieces. My husband and daughters have an efficient system: he splits, they stack. If they have no wood-splitter to borrow, they take turns with the ax. We definitely prefer using a wood-splitter!
It will take several months for us to get all the wood we need for the winter. If we were to wait until the last minute, as we did two years ago, we would end up burning green or rotten wood. Neither burns well or efficiently–no one enjoys a cold, smoky fire. We learned our lesson. It is just hard to get motivated to go spend hours in the heat getting ready for winter when winter seems so far away.
We are very glad that we know we can heat our home this way. As we face unemployment, it is a good feeling to know that we won’t be spending $1400 or more to heat our home for three months this winter. Our propane tank was filled last year in March, and it is still at 70% full. At this rate, we won’t need to fill it for another year. That is a great feeling…and a great savings!
The ant sure knows how to work hard in the summer. As do we. We will be comfortable come winter, and that makes all this hard work worthwhile. That lowly little ant is pretty inspiring, actually. We should all learn from her diligence.