The Simple Pleasures are Always Best

Wood-burning fireplace with burning log.

Image via Wikipedia

Back in the mountains, we had an extended winter.  That was a simple fact of life, due to our altitude, 9,96? feet.  Of course we always told everyone it was 10,000 feet above sea level.  I heated my house all year long with a wood burning stove.   I took it to the extreme of never allowing the electric furnace to kick on.  Being that our winter lasted about 9 months, I burned on average of 8 to 9 cords of wood a year.  I very seldom purchased firewood, choosing rather to go foraging for it during the summer months.   This meant many a weekend dedicated to cutting up and splitting wood. 

 

There had always been a comforting feeling in sitting next to a warm fireplace, watching the flames flicker and dance along the logs.  The soft crackling with an occasional “POP” was music to my ears.  After working all day out in the cold, I was always comforted to return home and stir up the fire once again.  I very seldom had to light a new one, for I would bank the fire with long burning pitch pine, and turn the stove way down before leaving.  I had three wood stoves in the house, but only burned one most times. 

 

One time, after an extended stay in Denver, Holiday shopping, we returned to a terribly frigid house.  I had forgotten to turn on the electric furnace prior to leaving.  It was about 25 degrees below zero outside, and probably 0 inside.  Thinking I could quickly heat up the house by lighting all three stoves, I set to the task.  Carefully crumpling up papers, and setting the kindling just right.  I had my own method, and refused to let anyone talk me out of it.  Lighting one then moving on to another, I lit the kindling.  By the time I got the last one lit, it was time to go back to the first and set a few logs on it carefully to guarantee a good flow of air through the logs.

 

In no time at all, I had a pleasant warmth encompassing our house.   We went about our chores, and unloaded the car.  As I was working along, I noticed it getting warmer and warmer.  Pretty soon I was stripping off layers of insulting clothing.   After about 30 minutes, I finally figured out that perhaps three stoves was not such a good idea.  It had warmed the house very quickly, but I do believe I did too good a job of laying the fires.  It was so hot in our house, we ended up having to open both the front and back door, and a few windows.

 

No real harm was done, but I did heat the outdoors for about an hour and a half before two of the stoves burned out and it started to cool off inside the house.

 

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19 comments:

the walking man said...

Regardless of the circumstances Eric, having open doors in winter would be a wonderful treat of cold crisp air.

Shadow said...

heating the outdoors, way to go... i share your love of a fire in a fireplace.

LAWRENCE said...

Great read,Eric! Bringing back so many memories of my grandfather's den. He had a fireplace buring bright all winter long. We would go to the woods every Saturday with his friends and cut up fallen timber. A great memory for me while growing up. Wish I had a fireplace now! Happy holidays.

LL

Margot Is Your Hero said...

Having a wood burning stove or a fireplace has always seemed so wonderful to me, regardless of the work you need to put into it it seems worth it. You paint it in that picture.

Pand0ra Wilde said...

Sorry to be off-topic but I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog. I really appreciated the visit.

maggie's mind said...

I do love a fire blazing in the fireplace, and I'd rather be too warm and open doors than too cold, so I'd say it was worth it. :)

tashabud said...

In the Philippines, we had wood stoves. That was how we cooked our meals. I think I can compete with you very well in starting a fire. Hehe. Now, we have a fireplace, but it's strictly a fireplace. It doesn't heat the house unless in its immediate surrounding. I do so love the crackling or popping sound of the wood and of course, the dancing of the flames and the changing of the hues. Thanks for making me closer to home.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Tasha

The Muse said...

Living in the woods/farm....our cottage is all about wood heat...
there is something so gratifying about hearing the crackle and the roar in the dead of winter.

Travis Erwin said...

There are few things that mesmerize me like a fire.

derfina said...

I would give my eyeteeth for one of those stoves right now!

Allison said...

I have no other means what so ever to heat my home, although I have a wood stove not a fireplace, I do love it. It is indeed a lot of work at times, but if you just stay ahead of yourself,I find I really like it. You had mentioned to me on my blog in a comment that you would burn aspen to clean the chimney. Ya know, a lot of people here in my town swear by coke cans, (soda) I was wondering if you or your readers here have heard such a thing. I would really be interested in knowing what others use. Aspen is around here but not all that plentiful.Just wondering.
Great article, as usual!

Eric S. said...

@ The Walking Man, Yep, it provided a nice quick and crisp cool down. It really was kind of refreshing. I guess we were lucky not to catch a cold, LOL.

@ Shadow, LOL, yep that's me, trying to help mother nature along towards spring. My Father had accused me of heating the outdoors on a number of occasions when I was a Child, so maybe it was habit.

@ Lawrence, Glad I was able to spark some nostalgic thoughts for you. There were times when the work collecting the firewood was just as much fun as the pleasure of enjoying it. Not often, but some times.

@ Margot, yes it was very pleasant. However I have to admit, when we moved down here, I told the wife there was no way I was going to have a fire place, LOL. 12 years of collecting 9 cords of wood each summer had taken it's toll. But now, I miss it quite a bit.

@ Pandora, well thank you for your visit also. I just recently discovered your blog, and have been silently enjoying it. I have a bad habit of being a lurker far too much.

@ Maggie, yes there is a certain pleasure associated with the comforting warmth. I can say just about wholeheartedly though I think I would rather be cold than hot. There's only so much clothing you can take off to cool down with out getting into trouble, LOL.

@ Tashabud, I bet you could give me challenge, LOL. My baby sitter when I was a child, cooked solely on a wood burner. There was a certain added taste to food that just made it better. I think there are more fireplaces for appearance and pleasure, than for actual heating these days.

@ The Muse, You are so right. the gratification and physiological comfort is hard to match. Wood heat is a lot of work, but usually worth the effort.

@ Travis, Happy birthday Travis, yes I have found myself completely mesmerized by a good fire on many occasions.

@ Derfina, LOL, you have been having a little unusual weather of late haven't you. If I still had them, I would happily send you one.

@ Allison, now that's a novel idea. I have never heard of that before, and wonder what the benefit would be. There is a product that has been on the market for a few years now. It looks like a manufactured log, and is called Chim Flux. You place it in a clean fire place, and light both ends. It burns very hot, and releases something I don't really know what that is supposed to loosen the pitch on the inside of your chimney, allowing it to fall down into your fireplace. I have heard it works pretty good. By the way, you should know, your post was the spark for this one, LOL.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Well, when you are freezing you overreact. Yeah, that's it. I chuckled out loud on that.

Have a terrific day. :)

Cloudia said...

As Walking Man says: Cold crisp air adds to the coziness of a winter fireside. . . .
Aloha, Eric-

Eric S. said...

@ Sandee, yes indeed, overreaction was the theme of that day completely, LOL.

@ Cloudia, yes it was cozy, and a little refreshing

Momisodes said...

I just loved the way you recalled your memories here. I also love the warmth and flicker of a fireplace. Although, I'm not sure I could do 9 months of winter! :)

Eric S. said...

@ Momisode, Thank you. You would be surprised how easy it is to get accustomed to. We used to have a saying about our winter, "9 months of winter, 3 months of fall, a breath of spring, and no summer at all".

Liara Covert said...

During my early teen years, I had a memorable summer experience in the Colorado mountains. I did circus trapeze training which expanded my spatial awareness and also helped me conquer sparks of fear before they grew to be unmanageable. I went through a period where the altitude seemed to be causing me to stop breathing mid-flight during breaks and holds on the flying trapeze. Rather than panic, I taught myself calmness. I have always remembered that deliberate mental decision. Even years later, when I have revisited mountains during picturesque winters, I still recall how I taught myself new levels of spatial awareness and calmness in similar surroundings. Altitude has different effects on different people.

Eric S. said...

Liara, Ohh, I bet that was an interesting time in your life. I can imagine the problem of altitude sickness would be terribly frightening in the middle of a trapeze act. We dealt with people who suffered altitude sickness regularly. One of the hardest things to get them to do, is to calm down and not panic. You have a strong will and faith.

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