The 9-1-1

Fall is busy here in the county, picking the last of the apple harvest, pumpkin patches open up, raking leaves over and over. Homeowners scramble to put away the last of the summer furniture worried snow may hit at any time. Pools are closed and last-minute lawn work is done all in preparation for the first blast of winter that can hit anytime.

October is always that way in Ontario, a crap shoot. Warm and balmy one day, frigid but sunny the next. Or my favourite type of day, the gloomy gray days where the rain seems to come up off the bay and drench the whole world.

It also means for those of us with wood burning fireplaces, making sure we have enough dry hardwood for the season. Having gone through the last of the pile from the previous owners, I was on the hunt. Thankfully, Carl, our trusty country living guide, had a guy named John.

Now I have no idea where John gets his wood, all I know is that I called and a man picked up with an eastern Canada accent.

“Beckie? Yes, Carl told me you’d call. You’re lucky. I should have some left. But it will be two weeks. Normally you should call in the summer.” I take a note to make sure we’re on John’s rotation list for next summer. Who knew people just run out of wood to sell?

“Great, how much do you think for us? A cord? Cord and a half?” (Thankfully, even back in the ‘burbs once upon a time we had a wood burning fireplace and I had ordered wood so knew the lingo.)

“My trailer only fits a cord and a half. So either a cord and a half or three.”

“Okay, we have two fireplaces. So three.”

We agree on the price and he tells me he’ll give Carl the heads up when it’s coming. We’ll need his help to get the load into the garage. At least for now until my three kids are old enough to haul wood and we buy a wheelbarrow.

“Wait, what’s your 9-1-1?” John asks.

I stop, unsure I heard right. Isn’t 911 an emergency number to call? I have no idea what he’s asking me.

“ number is..” And I prattle it off wondering why he doesn’t just see my number on his phone but of course not everyone has call display.

“No. You’re 9-1-1.”

I rack my brain wondering if anyone had ever used that term with me before. Nope.

“My address?” I guess.

“No, the number on the little green sign.” John asks and I almost wonder if he’s chuckling or exasperated.

Now I am definitely confused. Isn’t the green number on the sign my house number, sort of? I start going over my address again and I swear, I can hear the poor man sigh over the phone.

“What part of all of that is on the green sign. Just the numbers. I know where your road is.”

At last getting it, I tell him the numbers and we ring off.

When I was telling this story later that day to Mr. L he said it was probably some strange way John wanted an address. I agreed, until it happened again. And again. For some reason, when someone asks for your 9-1-1, they want your rural road designated number, not your whole mailing address. Just the numbers because if you told them the general area of the country, (a specific road, or landmark like the nearby church) they know where you live. Who knew?

So two weeks later our wood arrived, lots of wood. I didn’t realize how much 3 cords of wood is. I sent Mr. L and Carl a picture with the following text:

1.5 cords of 3


“Bundle up, you guys are going to be awhile.”

Between the two of them, it took a few hours to get the wood into our garage. Thankfully Carl borrowed a wheelbarrow from work and our wood is now neatly stacked in our garage ready to burn. An added bonus,  I still have room to put my vehicle.

With piles of leaves all over our yard, fridge full of apples and more and more pumpkins from the local patch decorating our yard, we’re embracing the fall in Prince Edward County. The colours are amazing this year, and we’re burning our wood. So all in all, old man winter can come anytime.




2 thoughts on “The 9-1-1

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