September 23, 2011

Wood for Stove and Grandmother's Love

A former student just reminded me that fire wood can range from very burnable to the undry-able in Sarawak!! The indigenous people of Sarawak have tribal knowledge of what wood can burn well and what won't. Students who live in most Sarawak boarding schools in the 60's and 70's used to collect firewood for the school refrectory/kitchen and those who were not in the know would collect wood that could not be burnt!! Thus giving more work to the cooks.

Dinners cooked over good firewood taste better.

My mother and grandmother would know what firewood to use. Good drift wood collected from the river would burn well and provide a roaring fire for both the stove and the rubber smoke house. In those days we could also pick up  spare Ramin wood from Lee Hua Sawmill nearby. These scraps and unuseable planks (some with barks still on) would burn very well indeed. Furthermore they were easier to saw and chop into smaller pieces as firewood for the Foochow stove. But those doing the sawing and chopping would get itchy all all over. And we would scratch to our heart's content!!

While in Mengzi(Yunnan) my friend and I came across a scene which brought all the above memories back to me. We were walking through an older part of the city where old people were still tilling small open spaces and old folks could still be seen living in the older homes. It was part of a smaller river side village which remained undeveloped so far. But the urban jungle is creeping in fast!!
In one of our evening walks we came by this housing area. We met an old lady who was going to cook her dinner.
One of the family members probably owns this little business - a trolley and  glass box  displaying lots of Honghe  area's cigarettes and other daily items.
The old lady and her basket of good fire wood. This old lady reminded me so much of my own maternal grandmother!!

10 comments:

Bengbeng said...

this is a lot of work though

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi BB...rather early today!! Thanks for dropping by...

Collecting fire wood and getting it dried and chopped is part of ordinary life in many parts of the world. Then getting fresh food from the river and cooking it for thefamily is another part of a woman's life...how does it compare to a nice Tai Tai's life? We can only shake our heads and cluck our tongue!!

Life is different for different people.....some have it good...some have it bad..But the most important is LOVE in our lives. If there is love there is no mountain that is too high.....and no storm too strong.

Cheers.
s

Anonymous said...

Your cousin is the newest datuk of Sibu!! Pride of the Rajang?

: Lee Hua Sawmill Girl

sintaicharles said...

So interesting! Have you ever thought of publishing a book on all your posts?

Anonymous said...

Light wood would burn better than hard wood. That is why rubber trees and ramin burn better. This is the overall conclusion.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks Anonymous. ...I heard about it...She came from Chung Cheng school also... Pride of Chung Cheng. I did not go to Chung Cheng School.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks Charles...we will see what happens in the future. Thanks for your moral support.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous...thanks about the different types of wood. Really appreciate it...

Ann said...

My new landlord made us a fence, my neighbour came and said the landlord gave her the off cuts. Last evening, they made a big bonfire.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Ann...nice to hear about your new fence..Your landlord must be a nice person..

How much off cuts were there? I know my Ah Kong would have made little stools.