Lina is 20, from Switzerland and is our new W’fer. She is pleasant, intelligent, fun and a good worker. And we are enjoying her company. Of course, I feel obliged to teach her how to chop wood – for the sake of her overall Canadian Experience – and, for me, that is one of the best ways to enjoy someone’s company – watching them chop wood.

I am not entirely scheming in my motives. Even though I appreciate very much the additional wood for the shed, the reality is that students of the splitting maul don’t really produce that much split wood. Heat, yes. Wood, no. It is more of a learning (and sweating) experience. And that is where the fun comes in.

Lina was no exception. She looked at me chop a piece of wood and thought (I am sure) “Hey! I can do that! Doesn’t look hard to me.”

But then I get to hand her the instrument of biomass destruction. The damn thing weighs eight pounds and it feels like twenty after a dozen or so ineffective whacks producing nothing. The round just sits there. Ain’t splittin’. “Sheesh, I wonder what I am doing wrong. It doesn’t look hard but it is!”

“It is all in the rhythm, girl. You just gotta get into the swing of things.” (sadly, bad puns are wasted on ESL guests)

The truth is, it is mostly in the rhythm but a little bio-mass of your own doesn’t do any harm. I have that. In spades. But, really, a small, thin person can whack wood once they get a rhythm-and-timing thing working for them. And that part is fun, too. One minute they are looking awkward and proving ineffectual and the next minute the wood splits and so does a huge grin across their face. Two days later, the wood starts to fly. It’s great!

Lina landed in Anchorage! Direct from Switzerland. Now that is a weird route. And now she is working her way south. At 20. Both Sally and I remarked at her courage and curiosity. This kid sells books at a bookstore and just decided one day to get on a plane to Alaska and then go see some of Canada. It would seem that the hippy, back-packer spirit is alive and well. In Switzerland, anyway. Good to see.

Lina spends some time w’fing, some time traveling and some time just pokin’ around. She expects to be in Canada for a few months. A week with us. (We will happily refer her to a friend should anyone want a house guest.)

I guess we’ve hosted about a dozen, maybe a few more, w’fers over the last few years and, tho each one is different of course, they all are fun to have around, are eager to ‘pitch in’ and seem to love the ‘life’ we are living. It feels good when you can give someone enjoyment by way of easy hospitality. They are appreciative in every sense – from the setting to the lifestyle, from Sally’s cooking to the chores we assign, from the dogs to the conversation around dinner. They seem to like it here, generally speaking.

And, I confess, I am amused by the chopping.

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