An interior photo of the cheese counter at our Rockingham, VT store

I grew up hearing a lot about Robert Frost, as he was my grandfather Vrest’s friend. They’d sit around on each other’s porches telling stories, trying to out–New England each other. So it’s no wonder that I know by heart (as I’m sure many of you do) one of his best-loved poems, written when he lived just down the road in Shaftsbury, Vermont. This time of year, it’s often on my mind.

I think of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” I can picture what Frost was writing about, as I am sure any Vermonter can. The winter woods in Vermont have a majestic way about them that stirs up memories.

For me, those thoughts aren’t exactly poetry. Like most any Vermonter who errs on the side of frugality, enjoys hard work, and likes staying warm, I think of splitting wood! Now, that seems a simple task, but it’s really quite the opposite, requiring an artful technique. Anyone who’s mastered it takes pride in that ability and looks forward to it each year before the snow flies. I like the idea that I can be outside on a crisp day, swinging an axe and watching it precisely split a round of firewood in half. And I love the idea that I’m part of a timeless tradition of people who have turned to the woods over and over to provide warmth and light for their homes. Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to throw another of those split logs on the fire and get back to work.

Gardner Orton, for the Orton Family