Sunday, 27 June 2010

Le put-put de Monsieur Hector



Sorry. I've been out of circulation for a few days.

Nicolas the village firewood merchant turned up with his lorry the other day to deliver next winter's wood. I'd previously ordered 2 cubic metres of ash logs, cut to 50cm lengths, and 4 cubic metres ditto of Mediterranean oak, an evergreen called chêne vert, green oak, a very dense, heavy and slow-burning wood.

Nicolas, whose father is a retired undertaker who never wears socks on the grounds that the only pair he ever had was stolen from him once in Corsica, tipped (by arrangement) the whole lot on to the gravelled drive-cum-parking area we have. It all had to be stacked, meaning that it had to be carted in wheelbarrow-loads to place beside a wall (not one I built) where it's reasonably convenient to go and collect armfuls for winter fires. A mammoth task, loading, carting, unloading and stacking. And I do like a tidy woodpile.

M. Hector our invaluable neighbour came to the rescue with his put-put. This is a wonderful motorised wheelbarrow, mounted on caterpillar tracks, ideal for ferrying several metric tonnes of firewood. (It's actually called une brouette motorisée, so we have to take care because any French word starting with 'put' has unfortunate resonances with pute (=prostitute) and putain, which is a common French swear-word.) So I strolled down to the Hectorium, took charge of the put-put and strolled back even slower, because the p-p's maximum speed is about 2mph.

So after countless trips backwards and forwards with put-put (me) and wheelbarrow (the heroic J.) the winter's wood is stacked, on palettes to ensure air circulation. I'll leave it uncovered to dry out fully through high summer, and in early autumn I'll cover it with a tarpaulin.

But throughout the shifting and stacking a pitiless sun high in an incandescent sky thoroughly broiled the toiler in the heat of the day. With all the lifting and stacking I did my back and abdominal muscles, became dehydrated, was sun-stricken despite wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat I bought two or three years ago in Selinunte in Sicily and had to retire for a day or two. J. survived better than I did, through the wisdom of working early in the morning while the other member of the household (not counting Tonip the cat) fritters away the cooler hours of the day writing blog posts, consulting Dr Dave and the like.

Merci, M. Hector. Without your help someone might have had to winkle Nicolas' father out of retirement.

8 comments:

Rog said...

I read that as "boiled the toilet" and assumed you'd contracted dystentry as well.

Nice pile of logs!

I, Like The View said...

this reminds me of a morning many years ago now, when I woke up literally unable to move - due to putting my back out the previous day whilst gardening (but only raking leaves in my case)

hope you're ok

very tidy pile of logs!!!

Charlene said...

You have a satisfied feeling at your accomplishment, much like Reggie who yesterday climbed via the "snake path" the 900+ feet to Masada in Israel in the heat of mid-day, and survived.

His GF asked, "Why do men have to do such things?"

Hector said...

Surely the star of the show is missing from your photographs - M./Mme. "Put-put" isn't a mere "brouette", albeit motorisée- he (or she) is a chenillette -at least according to M. Gary

Hector said...

PS - M. "Put-put" (decided he's masculine) on standby for drystone dyking duties

Dave said...

What happened to my comment?

Several hours ago I said it seemed a shame to burn such a beatiful pile.

Hector said...

Dave's comment reminds me of a Scotsman newspaper double-deck headline some 45 years ago, referring to a major blaze at a stately home in the Scottish Borders.

LAIRD'S SEAT BURNS
Ancient pile destroyed

Z said...

Ooh, we've got a put-put, only with wheels rather than the caterpillar tracks. She's over 60 years old and her name is Daisy. Before she lived with my parents, I understand that she worked on the railways.

Quite a stately pile indeed. I'm impressed.