‘Wood’ you be mine

I’m not a fan of winter.
I suppose I was an enthusiast at one time, when building snow forts was obligatory, throwing snowballs unavoidable, and careening down the hill on a long wooden toboggan or aluminum flying saucer was requisite—all part of the natural rights and privileges of childhood.
But now I grimace through the frosted glass, hoisting my shoulders to my ears while I watch the wind pile the snow up on my rights-of-way, obliterating my path; and all the while I am longing for the freedom of spring and summer and fall.
I’m ashamed to admit the aforementioned, and wince at my apparent abandonment of childhood enthusiasm. But in my defence (though it seems I’m grasping at straws), while I was happy building snow forts and throwing snowballs and careening down hills, someone else was shovelling, someone else was paying the hydro bill, someone else was scraping the windshield to get to work, and someone else had hands that ached like a rotten tooth from arthritis aggravated by the cold.
But alas, in all my arguing and wrestling with winter, I am grateful for, at the very least, my wood stove. Despite the ash dust on every surface in the house, and the trail of wood chips and bark from here to there to everywhere, despite the lugging and stacking, I am comforted by the humming fire that bounces inside my wood stove.
I feel noble when I burn wood for heat, a bit like a pioneer, and my bank account feels less threatened. Some would waggle a finger at me and complain about the carbon my wood fire releases, but I would argue I’m merely recycling the carbon that already exists in our atmosphere, rather than adding new carbon from fossil fuels to our already-burdened environment (an argument for another day).
The wood fire has a melody all its own, a tune backed up with a crackle and a pop percussion, and the wood fire’s warmth is immediate and direct.
A wood fire calms like no other heat source can. I can’t be comforted by the squawk and squeak of my electric baseboards that make my hydro meter whine in complaint. The propane flame, that is at best artificial, does not mesmerize me.
I love my wood stove. I love hanging wet things near it to dry. Though I’ve been known to complain about its heat when it seems excessive, I’m not truly bothered.
The wood fire soothes my aged aching joints and my joints quit barking and complaining, and I am most grateful for that.
I like the concept of managing the woodlot that is part of our space here, cleaning out the old and dying to let the new trees take their place. It’s like gardening on a greater scale.
Though I do find the mess tedious, it isn’t life-threatening—no one is injured by the debris that comes from burning wood, my house isn’t on display, and no paparazzi from “Better Homes and Gardens” are lurking behind the sofa to get a good shot of the bark and chips, and no guests have drawn their names in the ash dust on the end tables (though I suppose they may be tempted).
There are times that I grumble (on the inside where no one can hear me) when I’m trudging down the stairs with a load of wood in my arms and the kittens choose this time to wrap around my feet, which may or may not be part of their master plan for my demise.
There are times when I envy the switch-flicking power of the propane fireplace. There are times when I dream of a climate that requires no heat at all.
But those are only on days when I’m lazy or feeling old, or any combination thereof.
But I must be off. It’s time to stoke the fire; to tend to the wood stove’s insatiable appetite and to soak up a little of its warmth before I call it a day.
wendistewart@live.ca

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