On Sunday, I decided to reload the shed with enough firewood to carry us into spring.
It wasn't an emergency; the logs stacked along the rear wall would have lasted another week. But the day was sunny, and a little voice told me to get it done.
I moved the dry, checked logs from the back of the building to the sides and front, where we could pick them first. Then I started wheeling loads of ash and maple from the yard to the shed.
I parked the wheelbarrow by the door, went inside, and Buddy, our sturdy first grader, was waiting for me.
``Mom said to help,'' he reported.
``Thanks. I'll give you $2 an hour.''
``Is that good?'' he asked.
``More than I'm getting.''
We worked steadily, and the shed began to fill. The stove burns half a wheelbarrow load a day, I figured. Fifteen loads, 30 days of heat. Sixteen loads, 32 days. Seventeen loads ...
``How much allowance did you get when you were my age?'' Buddy asked.
``A quarter,'' I said, and watched him think about this while we finished up. ``Of course that's back when a quarter would buy five candy bars.''
``How much will it buy now?'' he asked.
``About one bite, ' I said, and we looked out the doorway, because a vehicle was slowing down on the dirt road.
``It's Uncle Chet and Alice!'' said Buddy at the sight of the silver pickup truck.
``Must be lunchtime,'' I said, and we threw the last few logs onto the pile.
Soon we followed our guests into the kitchen, where the aromas of fresh bread and roast chicken mingled. At the table, Uncle Chet wore a new black ballcap, and when he turned it my way I saw the white ``Obama'' insignia.
``You've foresaken the Jets,'' I noted. ``Hi, Alice.''
``Found a better label to put on my head,'' he said. ``It was only 15 bucks, and check out where it's made.''
He handed the hat to me and I read: ``Union made in the USA.''
``You wouldn't want to lecture on the economy and peddle Chinese hats,'' I said, and sat down.
``He's going all the way to the White House, unless they gun him down,'' said Uncle Chet. ``And I do lose sleep over that. It seems too much like '68, with the war and the crowds and Bobby Kennedy. Actually, Bobby was the first candidate I ever sent money to.''
``Have you sent Obama any?'' asked Hon.
``I did. Fifty smackers.''
``Is a smacker a dollar?'' asked Buddy.
``Yes,'' I said as Hon served chicken, potatoes, salad and bread.
``This looks wonderful,'' said Alice, who took a drumstick.
``First, I bought the hat,'' said Uncle Chet. ``But later I was thinking, I don't care if I get a good deal on a hat; I want to help this guy get elected. So I hit the credit card again.''
``Last of the big spenders,'' I said.
``He'll cream McCain, if he can get past the Clintons and the Democratic Leadership Council,'' said Uncle Chet. ``McCain has less chance against Obama than Barry Goldwater, a better Arizona senator, had against LBJ.''
``McCain's a hero, a prisoner of war,'' I noted. ``You know they'll be doing informercials about that.''
``True. But McCain can't keep his mouth shut, and apparently, he can't keep his eye from roving,'' said Uncle Chet. ``It's going to be a landslide.''
``I hope so,'' said Alice.
``Obama's young, even-tempered, on the side of union workers and young professionals,'' said Uncle Chet. ``He wants to end the war, cut the cost of health insurance and make college affordable: three winners. And Obama's lean campaign gives you confidence he might be able to run the country, even after the Bush bankruptcy.
``Compare that to McCain, the admiral's son who married money. He's old, quick to anger, definitely the wrong guy to have his finger on the button. He talks about another century of war, always on the lookout for an enemy.
``Some 40 years ago, McCain's plane crashed on a bombing run and he was taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. He was tortured and displayed incredible guts at the Hanoi Hilton before he signed a phony confession.
``McCain, the man, knows how evil, how useless, torture is, yet twice this year McCain, the politician, displayed no guts whatsoever in attempting stop it. So, I say he's going nowhere.''
``Amen,'' I said. ``Go Obama.''
``Go Obama,'' said Uncle Chet and the slogan rang round the table as we dug in.
Cooperstown News Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week.