As I walked through my neighborhood the past few days, I noticed the sound of buzzing-log-chewing chain saws and the thwack-thud of an ax splitting wood. Birch and spruce logs feed local fireplaces and wood stoves. As a newcomer, I take it as a sign–that and the stinging wind that ripped through a few days ago–that winter is fast approaching and it’s time to stock up. And stack up.

I came home on Saturday and found my neighbor, Martha, and her daughter, Spalding, splitting and stacking wood. I offered to help. Fresh air. Exercise. And what I determined was a Fairbanks ritual: piling up the wood for winter.

“We’re the three S’s: supplier, splitter, stacker,” Spalding said, as she skipped to fetch a couple logs from the pile of last year’s seasoned spruce.

“We’re just like pioneer women,” I said, pushing a wheelbarrow full of split spruce logs toward the shed.

“Yeah, except for the electric wood splitter,” Martha said.