The Whiskey and the Wood

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I’m not gonna say I was having a bad day—I think when you’re a middle class white guy who rides his bike, drinks beer then writes about it for a living, there’s no such thing as a bad day. Some days are better than others, but it’s important to keep it all in perspective. I never have to walk three miles with no shoes to get my drinking water, so I try not to bitch too much. But the day was…challenging.

The kids were at each other over what was the proper way to pronounce “pumpkin,” or something ridiculous like that. Deadlines were piling up. My hip was hurting (yeah, I’m getting old). Plus, it was balls cold so we were all cooped up in the house—it was only a matter of time before we turned on each other.

So I retreated to the backyard to chop wood and drink whiskey. Manly, right? I’m not saying women can’t chop wood or drink whiskey—most of the women I know could out drink me and probably wield an axe better than me. Still, there’s something decidedly masculine about sipping a big glass of brown liquor between swift and decisive axe swings. The burn from the liquor, the splinters from the split firewood, the flannel shirt…it may as well be a damned Viagra commercial.

On this particular occasion, the whiskey in my glass was a rye from Catoctin Creek in Virginia. A little thin, but floral with a bit of pepper and easy as hell to drink. I chopped a lot of wood that afternoon, more than we needed for the night ahead. I was enjoying the rhythm of it all—slice a few pieces of firewood, take a sip of whiskey, slice a few pieces of firewood. A light snow started to fall, dropping a dusting on my fresh pile of sticks. The silence out there, compared to the chaos inside my house, was intoxicating.

Soon though, it was time to lug the wood back into the house, to settle the great pumpkin pronunciation debate, and maybe hit a deadline or two. But my head was in a better space by then. I had a better perspective on things. A bit of whiskey, some time wielding an axe in the great outdoors, and suddenly, my day doesn’t look that bad after all.

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