Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Consider the Wood Stove
This one's for the wife:
While I'm partial to fireplaces (as you know), I have enjoyed more than a few winter evenings around a wood stove. Growing up, I used to spend the holidays at my Aunt Louisa's house in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, and she warmed her entire house with two wood stoves -- one the living room, the other at the back of the house. In fact, gathering kindling and chopping wood for Aunt Louisa's stoves was a formative experience for me, and probably one of the biggest reasons I got into the fireplace business after college. It was also one of the first things my wife and I bonded over, as she grew up in a house that was also heated (at least in part) by one of these time-honored beauties.
Of course, now that I'm semi-retired -- despite what the wife says as I putter about the house, looking for new projects -- I'm not so much a businessman as I am an enthusiast. And being an enthusiast allows me the freedom to explore every manner of natural indoor heating...including wood stoves.
That's why when my wife showed me this story from the Charleston, WV Daily Mail I was more than a little interested. My wife is a fan of author Suzanne McMinn's blog, and I'll admit, the woman's an excellent writer and has a wonderful style. What I was most interested in, however, was the trip down memory lane provided by her recent article about wood stoves.
Just reading about the dos and don'ts of wood stove use, I was immediately transported back to my childhood, chopping ash behind Aunt Louisa's shed and gathering sticks along the creek. Indeed, I got so lost in my reverie, I think I might even have gotten a splinter.
Yeah, sure, when it comes down to it, I'm still a fireplace enthusiast at heart. Heck, my wife just got on me this morning for ordering two of these new hearth rugs. Even though we really do need them as the holiday season approaches, and it was her idea to change out the old ones, she thinks we could have made do with just one. I told her to relax and enjoy the fire, which this morning seemed especially cozy for some reason, perhaps because I spent an hour Sunday afternoon cleaning out the firebox in preparation for the wife's Christmas decorations, which will be going up some time this week.
I love this time of year, if for no other reason than that I like seeing the stockings hung by the chimney with such loving care. That's one thing you won't get from a wood stove.
Still, I can appreciate where Ms. McMinn is coming from in her article. Stockings aside, there's something about the simple, utilitarianism of a wood stove that just can't be beat if you're out there in the country, a thousand miles from anywhere. They transport you not only through time but through space. And let's face it, that's a big reason why we ever build a fire in the first place, regardless of the hearth.