“I’ll be building what?”
“Holzhausen. Firewood stacks.” Brother Joosep pointed at several rounded structures that looked like hermit huts (and that I had desperately hoped were not accommodation for trekker volunteers).
I didn’t know whether to be happy these weren’t meant as my lodging, or to be terrified at the prospect of having to produce one of those. The contraptions had to be twenty feet tall, and I could not imagine how anyone pulls out a piece of wood without the whole thing toppling on their heads. The mere thought of the Karmic penalty for causing the death of a monk was giving me palpitations.
“Do you need anyone to peel potatoes?” I tried.
The monk grinned. “Brother Ruuben, our cook, has all the hands he requires at the moment. However, we might need you to bring in some wood later. It helps ward off the evening chill.”
Trivia: Holzhausen are a centuries old European method of stacking firewood. Many are about 2 meters tall (6-9 feet), though some – as in the above photo from a Monastery in Estonia – can be upward of 6 meters in height (~ 20 feet). Holzhousen are self-standing structures that are reportedly quick to make and don’t need to be braced. The circular format is not only self-supporting but provides good airflow for split wood to dry quickly. As the wood is stacked, rows are angled down slightly toward the center. This helps drain rain and melted snow and helps support the tapering of the stack.