Chris van Schaick: I’m obsessed with logs

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Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Chris is finally ready to come out of the wood shed and share his deep-rooted obsession with the world

When people walk into our kitchen, they often ask the same question: “Are those just for display?”

The “those” in question are my pride and joy. They’re a striking stack of logs which stretch from the floor nearly to the ceiling, in an alcove. At this stage, they’re for display purposes only.

But their presence does hint at something I’ve been meaning to share with you for some time. It’s that since first moving to the Meon Valley - and living in a house with a wood burner and three open fireplaces - I have become a fairly serious log obsessive.

And what better time to confess my log love than at this turn of the seasons, when chillier evenings send a man scurrying out to the wood store calling hopefully “Shall we have a fire tonight?”

Those of us for whom a love of logs is a deep-rooted part of our identity have had some great encouragement in the last twelve months. Many of us have decided to come out. Not from the closet, but from the wood shed.

We’ve felt tremendously empowered - and much less alone - after the publication and hit status of a book called Norwegian Wood by Lars Mytting. It’s part text book and part love ode describing the joy a man - and it usually is a man – can get from his logs.

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Lars identifies, for instance, a period in the life of a man which he calls “Wood Age”. He defines it as the life stage at which a man spends 98 hours a year or more on his logs. I think I’m there.

I have to admit it’s all faffing. Taking delivery from the truck, moving the logs to the wood store, chopping them, stacking them and admiring them, before finally bringing them inside the house.

I must also confess I torture myself in the pursuit of the perfect log. I switch from supplier to supplier, never quite satisfied in my idealised yearning for the ultimate log. In fact I find that log deliveries can often be like visits to the hairdresser. The care taken first time never seems to be quite replicated on subsequent occasions.

Once, Mrs. v.S. and I went out on an expedition of do-it-yourself log acquisition. They’d been cutting back the trees on the Meon Valley Trail (the old railway line) and we got hold of a permit to collect some of the timber.

In one way, it was a fool’s errand. By the time we’d borrowed a chainsaw, bought some 2 stroke for it, got a nice bottle of red for the people who’d lent us the chainsaw and spent an entire Saturday covering ourselves and the car in bark and sawdust, we might as well have gone and bought some ruddy logs.

But that wasn’t the point. We felt fully in tune with our surundings. And as Lars would tell us, there’s something quite mystical about what passes between a man and his logs - even when his wife is present.

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