So it has been a very long hot summer with temperatures in the high 30’s for most of July and August, with high humidity making it feel hot and sticky and rain only putting in an brief appearance just twice in those two months.
Today was the kind of day that makes you think about sitting by the pool with an iced drink watching the local flora and fauna and generally trying to keep cool and collected and do as little as possible.
Instead local tradition defines a completely different way to spend the day. It’s time to think about the oncoming winter and get that wood supply sorted out and stacked up ready for when the weather is not so “user friendly”.
A combination of high gas prices, a certain Vladimir Putin who seems to have his hand on the gas tap of Europe and concerns about reducing the carbon footprint of heating the house during the winter has meant a resurgence of the older system of keeping warm – burning logs. The new breed of highly efficient reverse flame wood burning stoves has also meant that one again the smell of wood smoke will be in the air as things get cooler here.
As you can see from the video below, the main problem is getting the wood to the house as the steep, narrow streets and alleyways in Barga Vecchia make transporting the logs a time consuming and skilful business.
So just what is this local tradition that says this time of year people should be sweating it out loading up their firewood ?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to do it in a cooler time of the year ?
Well, yes on the surface it would seem a bit more logical to wait a month or so but once you dig down into the reasons why it’s done this time of year it becomes a bit more obvious.
Although agriculture now takes a far smaller position in the culture of this area, once upon a time it was paramount.
Bringing in the wood and stacking it at this time of year fits in very neatly between the two other labour intensive moments that once dominated the summer months – the cutting, drying and bringing in of grass to be used as fodder for the animals during the winter months and grape picking – the vendemmia season which will be upon us shortly.