It’s late fall and a squirrel rummages around in the top of an oak tree, pulling acorns off and sending them hurtling to earth. That same squirrel later gathers the acorns for his winter stash, ..except for the one he missed as it rolled under a rock. The acorn hides under the rock through the fall and winter, unnoticed by all the woodland creatures. Come spring, it thaws out and gets soaked with moisture from the melting snow and spring rains.
At some point in May it cracks open and takes root forming a tiny trunk and one tiny leaf. As it grows, it absorbs oxygen & co2 from the atmosphere, water & nutrients from the earth and energy from the sun. Over the course of the next 80 years, the tiny oak sways in the breeze and fights for sunlight as it grows to be a fine specimen. If trees could talk it would tell tales of happenings all through the forest. There was the time a hunter climbed it’s trunk to watch for deer from a tree stand.. Numerous times a hawk had nested in its branches.. Two or three timber harvests and one mischievous little boy with a hatchet had created holes on the nearby canopy, each time letting in more sunlight and changing the dynamics of the surrounding forest.
About half way through its 80th year a forester from a nearby lumber mill happens along and squirts blue paint on the trunk of the oak. A few days later the logger makes his way through the woods, with determined look on his face, eying the 80 year oak. Suddenly, a chainsaw roars to life and the tree, loaded with acorns crashes to earth. Acorns go flying in all directions. As luck would have it, one rolls under a rock.
At the landing, the tree is cut to various lengths. The butt log destined for the veneer mill, the next cut goes to the local sawmill and the tree top goes to the pellet mill, where it will be debarked and ground into sawdust. From there it will join a crowd of other sawdust as they make their way through the rotary kiln to remove much of the moisture. Next stop is the rotary die where it is compacted and forced through a quarter inch hole converting it into a tiny wooden rod called a wood pellet.
At the end of the day, it’s resting comfortably in a silo with a million other wood pellets, waiting for a delivery truck to drop them off to heat someone’s home, school or business. You see, wood pellets don’t mind this at all. They know they will be helping some lucky soul to reduce their carbon footprint by replacing imported fossil fuel.
Finally.. the day arrives, and the delivery truck shows up and rescues the wood pellet and his friends from the dark silo. They all bounce happily down the road en route to some lucky boiler or stove. By now it’s late spring and the weather is warming.
The excitement builds as the little pellet jockeys for position to be first out of the truck. The delivery driver connects the 4” hose to the aluminum connector mounted on the house, turns on the air pressure and opens the flood gate. The pellet and his friends come rushing out on a cushion of air. They make their way through the delivery hose and into the 3-ton storage bin in the basement of the house. As luck would have it, the pellet lands at the mouth of the pour spout, mere inches from the pail that will carry the group to the pellet stove, 10 feet away.
Time slows to a crawl as the temperature outside warms up. It’s two or three days before those glorious words are heard: “Ok honey, one last fire before I clean the stove for its summer vacation”, followed by “I’m sure glad we installed that pellet stove and bulk storage bin last winter”. Before you know it, the basement is toasty warm with a flickering glow emanating from the glass face of the pellet stove. “There’s no heat like wood heat” are the last words that are heard as the co2 stored in the little pellet is invisibly released, up through the chimney and back into the atmosphere, ..just in time for a tiny oak to poke its leaf out from under a rock not too far away.