The Happy Woodsman

A Typical CricketOnce upon a time there was a cricket who lived in a woodpile. It was cold in the woodpile and a creepy fungus grew there, but the cricket had seen worse. The cricket could *imagine* much worse. “At least no one is shooting at me,” he said, and went about his business.

Every day a woodsman split and stacked more wood on this wood pile. One day the extra load discharged a large wood shaving that dropped right into the cricket’s bath behind him as he reached for the soap. The shaving made an enormous splash. Most of the water in the cricket’s bathtub went all over everywhere. “Oh well,” said the cricket, an hour later when the mopping up was nearly done. “I’m very late for work now, but at least no one is shooting at me.” And off he went about his business.

Time passed. The woodsman continued to split and stack wood on the woodpile, because winter was right around the corner and you can’t be too prepared. One Saturday morning, the cricket thought he’d sleep-in for a while, and brought his newspaper back to bed along with a big mug of very good coffee — dark roast, ground fine and brewed in a press-pot for the fullest flavor. The cricket’s bed, by the way, was a little wooden Diamond Matches matchbox with the drawer slid half-way open. He used a scrap of olive brocade from an upholsterer’s sample book for a duvet cover, and scraps of an old t-shirt for sheets.

He had just climbed back into the match box and drawn up the upholstery scrap when he heard a great, grinding clatter. Dust sifted down from the log overhead and the power went out. The cricket was very frightened. He dove down beneath the blankets to the very foot of the bed. After a time in which no further noises were heard and no more dust sifted down — but no lights came on either — he poked his nose out and said, “Well, at least no one is shooting at me,” and went about his business in the dark, although (he soon discovered) he was also without water because his well-pump was electric.

Some weeks passed and the cricket started to notice that the sun seemed to filter in earlier and more brightly than before. It was still very cold, but he thought this might be a thing to celebrate. He made a mental note to buy a package of Swedish ginger thins the next time he was in the supermarket, and make a little party for himself. But before he could get around to doing this, he awakened one morning with a sick feeling of enormous shifting movement: the log beneath his matchbox bed was being lifted up, and he felt a coolness on his cheeks as he was carried with it, up out into the open air. He sat up in his matchbox bed just in time to see and feel himself being flung into the fire in the woodsman’s Sam Daniels furnace.

“Oh well,” he thought as the fierce heat of the wood fire blossomed against his shiny cricket cheek. The very last thought that went through his mind before he was burnt to a cinder was, “At least no one is shooting at me.”

In heaven, God was watching all this, and made a mental note to smite the woodsman for being so unobservant as to fling into the fire a cute little matchbox, tricked out like a bed with a brocade duvet, in which sat up a tiny cricket wearing striped pajamas and a resigned expression. But in the press of other business, He never got around to it and the woodsman lived, reasonably content, for a good long while thereafter.

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17 thoughts on “The Happy Woodsman

  1. For the record, this adorable little story is dated at about the same time as my own work situation had reached a nadir. This is when I was feeling just like the proper little cricket, who never did get out to buy those Swedish ginger thins. Fortunately, I’m still in my matchbox with my olive brocade duvet cover.

  2. I like the story and ALL that detailed information about the cricket’s household and the lingerie, but I did not like the ending, because I saw it coming and so it made me nervous about half way down the screen. Are you sure this is the way it really ended?

  3. I thought that, when the cricket noticed the sun filtering in earlier, one evening it climbed out of the wood pile to watch the sundown and play the wings a little (since a crickets’ wings are a kind of harp strings, see). Just then it heard the owner of the wood pile say to his wife that he would presently take all that wood to the back of the house. So the cricket packed up its things,laptop, bed, soap dish and all, and moved out. As it was packing and moving it said:..

  4. Welcome, canteuso! Yes, alas, I am quite sure this is how it ended. I’m quite sure also that the woodsman in my story has no wife or roommate or possibly not even a pet of any sort because he is so fixedly and contentendly self absorbed. But I look forward to reading about crickets in your part of the world on your blog :o)

  5. That is nice. There is a Morgenstern poem about a little Christmas tree that had its day of glory and then was set out to rot in the cold. But somebody came and took it and threw it into the fire, and it sparkled and Morgenstern said that this is how it returned to God.

    It was a bit creepy.

  6. And when are you going to write the next story? You haven’t run out of ideas, have you? Because you could also say whether the cricket was lucky with her new place, since nowadays so much depends on neighbours, because of the density of population and the quality of sound equipment, you know. For instance it could be that her new neighbour had a complete collection of Elvis Presley records? Or tried to save on electricity by doing her laundry after 1 a.m.?

  7. It is a statement of fact. Look how you spell CantUEso. It is the name of some kind of wild lavender here. I don’t know the plant, but took its name because I saw it mentioned somewhere in Cela’s “The family of Pascual Duarte”.

    Yesterday I ran across another Vermonter. She is political, but I think rather good at (see that “but”? …?) http://windwhistle.wordpress.com/

    How is the cricket coming?

  8. I mix them up all the time. I did not mean the letters, but the sound, and did not at that moment remember that an American would anyway not pronounce these sounds in any predictable way. —

  9. Noooo! I agree with cantueso– the little cricket lived! He became an arsonist who burned down the woodsman’s house, then moved to China, where they know how to treat crickets.

    This was a great story. You write so well!

    @cantueso: I’m glad to know how you chose your name. I’d always thought you’d named yourself after a type of liquor:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantueso

  10. ??
    zero alcohol tolerance. I was surprised you could not tell I was a she. I always can tell a female voice from a male one. Strange. It makes me feel uneasy if I see somebody thinks I am a man, because I imagine they are being polite.

    In Spanish there are girls’ names ending in -0. María José is a girl and often just called José. (José María is a man’s name.) — Camino is a girl’s name and means way or path and comes from Our Lady of the Way, maybe a traveler’s patron. — Consuelo means consolation, a girl’s name.

    It is not true that the cricket became an arsonist. That is Fox News. They got him mixed up with the Roman emperor Nero. The cricket became a blogger, and as a matter of fact he tried to get back at the woodman by writing about wood rot.

  11. @ cantueso: I didn’t think you weren’t a she, I thought you had chosen your name after an alcoholic beverage, because that is how Wikipedia defines “cantueso.” It made sense to me, because I believe you are Spanish, correct? I like your explanation of how you chose it better.

    That was one smart cricket.

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