“Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough,” said the old man, “and I can move the Earth.” The same might be said about an iron cookstove. Our old woodstove is outside, on a pallet, already stripped of reusable parts. The new heating plant — thanks to everything you ever learned about simple physics in school — is at work keeping us comfortable. With last week’s bitter cold mornings, we are most grateful.

Archimedes, who supposedly made that observation about a lever long enough, was also reputed to have uttered ancient Greek variations of “Leave me alone, I’m thinking,” “Hey, you’re standing in my light,” and “Shush, I’m doing numbers, don’t mess me up.”

Moving this stove was not a job where “many hands make light work.” There was no chance of this being light work. There was no room for many hands, no way enough people could get around our brand-new Heco wood- and coal-burning stove to manhandle the 775-pound hunk of iron into place.

When the simplicity of picking something up and carrying it is realistic, I’m all for it. I am not averse to grunt work. Doing a regular truck freight run to Matinicus I have noticed how safety-conscious appliance-store guys generally want to roll items up the ramp with a hand-truck. Sometimes I say, “But in five seconds we could just have it heisted up here. It’s just a dishwasher!” Our regular gang of highly skilled, island-based U-Haul-unloading helpers think nothing of moving 55-gallon drums of lube oil, long 6x6 timbers, concrete blocks, asphalt shingles, and an annual ton of flour and sugar for the bakery. Not this time, boys and girls.

This move was a job for a little peace and quiet and a good deal of standing still, for looking things over and thinking. The task at hand required rumination, engineering, and the backyard treasures of the sort of collector who never walks past an errant piece of pressure-treated. “You can never have too much blocking” (yes, my husband Paul has made that observation out loud during more than one romantic stroll on the beach). But a man can, on occasion, have too much help, and the willingness of a large cadre of visiting experts to offer advice was making me a bit nervous.

The whole exercise brought to mind one of my favorite books, Jan Adkins’ “Moving Heavy Things.” Mixed in with the techniques are snippets of wisdom such as: “The Stagehand’s Axiom: Never lift what you can drag, never drag what you can roll, never roll what you can leave.”

Moving our old woodstove out and the new stove off the U-Haul, into a tight entryway and through another doorway into the kitchen and to a precise location without damage or injury, required deliberation and science. It also required a John Deere 1050 tractor, a Kubota tractor of at least the same size, a hydraulic jack, a mover’s dolly, assorted blocking and scrap lumber, a handful of cedar shingles, most every kind of screwdriver they make, a few fathoms of rope, an 8-foot 2"x4" for leverage, the more common power tools, a three-pound sledge, and a lot of patience. The one thing we didn’t use was grease. The stove was exactly — exactly — the same dimension as the doorway, sans door and all removable hardware. We might have done well to slick up the woodwork with a paintbrush full of doughnut lard. You think I’m kidding.

A point, by the way, for the packrat. Had Paul not kept all kinds of stuff lying around to work with, we’d have been in something of a pickle. There was no way our new stove could simply be muckled onto by a couple of deck apes and carried. This being the Far Continent of Matinicus, one also cannot hop into the family sedan and make a quick run to town to rent equipment.

Oh, and out here you don’t just “have it delivered” and assume it’s the delivery company’s problem. I was the delivery company. On that note, ask the air service pilots and the postmaster sometime about how it works when people order large pieces of furniture online. That’s fun.

Adkins seems to agree with both my husband and Archimedes. “Moving heavy things is more a way of thinking than a job. Freshen your eyes, slow down, preen your patience … worry over it a bit …” and “Get the Ming vase out of the room.” I’d recommend Adkins’ little book to all, as there’s something for everyone among the physics lessons, instructions for knots, safety suggestions, historical insights, and humor. “The odds of failure can be calculated roughly thus: odds of the bread falling jam-side down are proportional to the cost of the carpet.”