Smoke gets in your eyes

It’s that time of year. With a bite in the air, it’s time to fire up the wood stove.
Since I’m headed south shortly, and am well-known for my lack of ambition, I’ll forego that pleasure. Haven’t split a single block of wood since I left the farm. Even in moose camp, I leave that chore to the more experienced—like Pickle.
Anyway, Schoolbus Jack wandered into the Bakery in Drizzle Creek the other morning, pulled up a chair to the debating table, and immediately started complaining about the weather.
“Too warm and too wet,” he stated, massaging his aching knuckles, explaining he simply couldn’t get into the swamps and across the fields to skid out the firewood to fill his orders.
“Why can’t they simply order it ahead of time, instead of waiting until now, and then whining because I can’t deliver it right away. They do the same thing every year,” he whined while settling in for his first cup of high test.
“If they do the same thing every year, why don’t you cut a bunch ahead of time when the weather’s decent,” I asked, already suspecting the answer (after all, I’m an expert on procrastinating and Schoolbus Jack, like this Jack, works better under pressure).
All the question gained me was a dirty look, so I turned to Moose who, after his third cup of high test, finally was coming to life.
“What do you burn in your stove?” I queried, not really that interested as I wasn’t going to help him haul it.
“Tamarack. Some dry, some green,” Moose stated without hesitation, keeping his eyes glued on his cup.
“Isn’t that awful dirty? Doesn’t it creosote up your pipes? How do you keep them clean?” I continued as I got my toast order in before the busy crowd showed up—and just in time as Pickle, the Runt, and about three other philosophers pulled up to the table.
Moose came to life and started to chuckle, obviously remembering some mischief he had been up to years back. It had to be years ago as he simply hasn’t the energy or stamina to do it anymore.
“Oh, I just watch for a good rainy morning, then I crank up the fire and let ’er roar. Nothing like a brisk creosote fire to clean out the flues,” he chuckled.
“I was a little slack that one year, and the creosote load was pretty heavy. It was raining good, so I hopped out of bed, stuffed some newspaper up the flue, fired ’er up, and jumped into the shower. About five minutes later, I hear pounding at the door and horns blowing, so I peek out,” Moose explained, now starting to giggle.
“Must have been a temperature inversion or something because the chimney was just roaring a flume of green smoke with flames going about 20 feet straight up. Then it went straight north and settled on the main drag.
“I stuffed the towel I was wearing up the flue to cut off the air supply and there was kind of a ‘Whuuuump’ as she completely snuffed herself out,” he added.
“Then I had to find another towel and unlock the door before the neighbour kicked it in. The sight of me with that skimpy towel seemed to make him back off and mutter about the smoke, but by then there was nothing left to trace it to me.
“Main Street wasn’t so lucky. Those folks were busy coughing and rubbing their eyes for a couple of hours.
“I got dressed double quick, stuffed the smoldering, creosote-soaked towel in a garbage bag, and snuck it out the back before the missus even come to,” Moose bragged as he finished off his high test.
Rising from the table, he commented over his shoulder as he headed for the door, “Kept a straight face for about five years whenever she got on a rant looking for that prize towel. But I don’t think she’d have wanted it back anyways.”

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