If you don't have three woodburning stoves to each of which you are a martyr, and you are not as dependent on wood for heating as we are, you could be forgiven for not knowing the logistics, and perhaps thinking that this is how it happens...
Man goes to wood shed to bring in barrow-load of logs which have miraculously appeared as if a gift from the wood fairy.
In fact first you need your wood fairy and of course I have one of my own, so should it be my misfortune to have to get the logs in... well there they are all waiting for me.
But now is the time of year when Bookhound sets to and stocks up the wood shed ready for next winter and so any time he seems to be absent without leave I will usually find him in this, his favourite corner of the garden.
This is Man's Land...I call it Cross Boys' Corner too, the perfect place to dispatch teenage boys who didn't quite know what to do with themselves and a place where these...
miraculously become these with a few hefts of the axe...
And I am happy to admit that I just can't do it. I'm a girl, the axe swiftly removed from my hands after one attempt and before I remove my foot, but well might you be wondering what all this has to do with The Natural Navigator, Tristan Gooley's book on finding your way using nature as your signpost.
Well, having bought it I am reading and taking it all in because, though we are not SatNav people, give us a good old fashioned map that I can have upsidedown by mistake any day, but I also love the thought of being even more aware of what is around me and might be trying to tell me something. I am reading a few pages, and then going out and looking, reading a few more pages and looking some more, so don't expect me to be an expert on NatNav anytime soon because there is a vast amount of Did You Know and trial and error to be shared first.
Right, now, listen up... dendrochronology.
'The science of using tree rings to understand the age of a tree and the climate it experienced through its life. A navigational pointer can be found in a different aspect of the trunk of a felled tree - an architectural one...'
Now this all follows on from the startling (to me) and previously unknown revelation that if you take time to explore a tree from as many different angles as you can it is often possible to discern a heavier side, and there follows a perfectly logical and understandable scientific reason for this in the book which I will spare you, but it involves words like phototropism, auxins and cell elongation. All the budding NatNav needs to know is that in the Northern Hemisphere this will mean that you might be able to spot the 'tick' effect... on its southern side a tree will grow out towards the light, on its northern and darker side they will grow more vertical....like a tick.
And if you start looking out and about you will soon see it. Looking at these trees, which I see and love every day as I walk past along the lane wondering quite how do trees suddenly spring up in the middle of fields like this, then I would hazard a guess that the foremost tree might be roughly south <<<<<< and north >>>>> and I know I am about right.
Simples, because you can then orientate your direction accordingly, and once you know this you spot it everywhere, so we are now driving along shouting 'tick factor' every five minutes at every distant tree we see. I have simplified it all for ease of telling because there are other factors to take into account like wind and sun but the general principle holds, and I tell you I have never been so interested in trees.
Returning to dendrochronology and the woodshed, apparently even Leonardo da Vinci noted that 'the heart of the tree can often be found closer to the southern side than the northern..'
Now you probably all knew this already but it had just never really occurred to me to think of a reason for this assymetry sitting in the log basket.
Next I am moving on to Mosses and Lichens of which we have a profusion, back soon with more budding NatNav tips I hope.