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Vacation to Poland - What does a wood chucker chuck

The first night at the mountain house was best described as dark. In a village of around 50 separate houses with a average distance of at least 100 meters between every house and no street lights, it gets very dark. I very literary couldn't see my hand before my eyes in a room that lacked curtains. It was fine, it just took a little longer to get my pillow just right.

I woke around 8.30 from the morning sun shinning into my face, consequently it had given me a bursting headache and wasn't planning to get up just yet. With the help of a little smoothness from my side I got my wife onto my side of the bed and me on hers and out of the sun. Eureka! More sleep! Ten minutes later I was lying in the sun again but fell asleep anyway.

About two hours later we set, showered and ready, down for breakfast. Some juice, home made bread baked the evening before and a cup of tea. Over breakfast we discussed our own plan for building a wooden house in Poland, our shared dream and a puzzle on how we can make in feasible.

After breakfast we went quickly upstairs to gather our stuff and be of to a small town about 10 kilometers down the mountain. When we opened our room we were surprised about the mess we found there. Kitty litter everywhere the toilet of our cat on its side and vomit in front of the bed. While inspecting all the mess my wife could grab the cat just in time from the bed and put her on the ground; she was just in the process of vomiting again. Yep our cat was really ill.

When we finally cleaned everything we discussed what to do next, stay at the house? Go back to Wroclaw? My wife decided to have a talk with her friend Ola, owner of the mountain house whom happened to also have a cattery. She said that it would be no problem, traveling cats get sick easier and when you want to take them to cat shows it's better to just get used to it. In short no danger to the cats health so we decided to stick with the original plan and just go to the town for an hour.

When we walked to the car the boyfriend of Ola, Wojtek was chopping wood in the garden. Wojtek and I communicate by mixing Polish and English, with the emphasis on English as his English is still better then my Polish. When he sees us he shouts at me, "wanne try?" and holds his hammer axe in my direction. He stands in the sun surrounded by a serious amount of wood with his beautiful axe. He's splicing whole wood stems between 30 and 50 centimeters long and about the same in width.

I've always been fascinate about the whole process of splicing wood. A heavy axe which you aim at a piece of wood, you swing, and then the sound of the split and two pieces of wood flying to both sides. And again. The cheer repetition of the activity seems soothing while still putting a lot of physical effort into it. In a way that makes wood splicing not unlike yoga. I bet this is the first time in history someone made that comparison.

Of course I couldn't turn down his offer and I didn't even want to. I gave the camera I was holding to my wife while taking of my jacket. As casual as I could I answered "sure!" to Wojtek's invitation. I walked up to him and asked him to demonstrate the technique, he wasn't very descriptive. He Grabbed one of the full stems, swung about 3 times and it was in two. He handed me the axe grabbed a full stem and added, "now you, in one time". I laughed and took my first swing, I dug the axe tightly into the wood. Luckily I watched closely when he was doing it so I knew it took small jerks to get it out again. I swung the axe again and again while my wife was taking pictures. I could see I was hitting the wood with the right force but nothing was happening. I kept on swinging while my hands started to hurt. I wasn't going to give up that easy, it had to split even if it would mean that I would have to nurture blisters for 3 days on my hands. A matter of silly masculine pride.

Finally I heard the sound of a crack coming from the wood, sweat was poring out of every pore in my body but the sound of the splitting wood gave me new energy. Two swings later a piece of 10 centimeter sprang loose from the 50 centimeter thick stem. Wojtek came to inspect my handiness and noted that my first 20 swings were very neatly in the middle of the stem and well aimed, but because I had a stem which had a branch growing out of it it would have never split in two at that point. I nodded and decided to give it again a couple of swings from a different angle. Although I got the wood to make the cracking sound again, nothing much happened. I decided to call it quits my hands were burning and felt exhausted.

I handed the axe back to Wojtek and noticed the gloves he was wearing and shouted out, "hey! but you have gloves!", to which he replied, "yes, of course!" while smiling friendly.

My wife and I got into the car and as I let the steering wheel slide back trough my hands while turning of the property I thought to my self, "ouch".

A couple of hours later we were sitting on our room enjoying the art of doing absolutely nothing. While I was dreaming of a big travel photography assignment with a bag of chips on my lap, my wife was practicing an odd combination of playing with the cat and reading at the same time. A single knock on the door and an invitation for kielbasa hot from the bbq by Wojtek made us switch into action again.

There was a chilly wind blowing from the north as I discovered from looking at the satellite dish hanging from the side of the building, on this side of the globe they always point to the south,

just a free city boy survival tip. Wojtek and I located a spot in the garden just behind some trees where the wind wouldn't bother us to much when preparing the kielbasa.

Not much later the four of us were ready to start enjoying the meal, the hot sausages from the bbq combined with fresh veggies and a good Polish beer.

The dog from the neighbors downhill sniffed out our good times and decided to pay us a visit. After offering the small dog the last piece of my kielbasa it became clear I made a friend for life. Even when I decided to take a walk after dinner over the mountain to shoot some pictures in and around the village he wouldn't stray from my side.

It was about 45 minutes later when I returned to the house, Ola and Wojtek were busy stacking the wood that was chopped that day. After petting the dog one last time I found my way back to our room. My wife and I reflected on the day, again a good day in Poland and tomorrow the journey back to the city of Wroclaw.

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