A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body

It’s the start of the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada. In the depths of rural Ontario where I live people have poured in from the cities to open their summer places and savour country life for a handful of days. Yesterday I spent the better part of the evening into twilight splitting firewood—a chore that lies at the heart of rural living in the temperate latitudes. I do it by hand with a splitting maul. It’s one of life’s small but exquisitely bracing pleasures, spoken of famously by Henry David Thoreau as heating a man twice, once in the splitting and then again in the burning. It’s a job I’ve always relished deeply in all the years I’ve lived in the country. Not only is it an invigorating full-body workout that does wonders in lifting the stresses of the day, but it carries with it the practical benefits of a growing woodpile, the tangible foretoken of a winter’s span of warmth.