I can’t believe its been a year since I wrote a shack story! But its this time of year that makes me especially nostalgic for that wonderful old house.
By the autumn, at least a couple of cords of firewood would already sit stacked out beside the shed along the top of the drive. If I had been really organized, the wood would have been there all summer, getting good and dry and seasoned, so that it would burn perfectly.
But most years, the woodman was called at the end of August and we stacked it just in time for the first cool night. It was not unusual for us to have a fire in the evening by the middle of September. The weather might be beautifully warm during the day, but as the sunlight began to dwindle into autumn, the nights would get clear and frosty by dawn.
Those first fires were sometimes a little smoky, causing us to open every window in the house and turn on all the ceiling fans to rid the house of that first fire smell. The nice thing about our wonderful woodstove ( that I loved so well after having a wall eyed fit about its placement – see earlier posts about the chimney saga), was that once there was a good fire, the bed of coals could last all day. So the stove stayed a little warm and was usually no problem getting the nightly fire to blaze.
Once we had cold weather move in for good, the stove had its own routine. Each morning, Bob would fill it up with wood, working with the night’s coals and maybe with a little extra kindling, building a steady flame, making the house warm and toasty. He would soon be out the door to work. So as I left, I would add more wood, dampen down the vent and making sure the stove door was closed, good and tight. I, too, would be out the door and off to my job.
Each afternoon, as I drove down our tree covered lane, rounding the last curve, there, perched on the side of the ridge, the shack would come into view. And each afternoon, I would think –‘Well, it didn’t burn down today!”
One thing I loved about heating with wood was the quiet. No furnace fan or blower, just the occasional shifting of logs or the popping of embers. A gentle, living warmth radiating from the corner of the living room, into each room and up the stairs. It was perfect.
Perfect, except for the constant attention it needed, the removal of ash, which caused a trail of fine particles to dust the entire living room. And the occasional popping ember out of the stove onto the carpet and the days when the wind was just right, the smoke refused to go up the chimney and would just much rather stay inside the house. Oh and those bitter, snowy nights when it need to be fed from the stack way on the other side of the shed.
Yes, my glasses aren’t so rosy that I have forgotten all the trouble it took. And now, when the furnace kicks on, loud fan and all, I can remember the wonderful old woodstove in the warm comfort of our lake house.
Until next time – and I won’t go another year – smiles…
*** And I promise to go thru all the photos and start sharing more pictures from the shack years.
well this brought back memories! we had a wood stove in one of our houses during my teenage years and there was nothing quite like sitting in the rocking chair with a quilt and a book next to the stove while a Wisconsin winter moaned outside 🙂 my dad’s house burned to the ground one year due to a wood stove incident – thankfully everyone got out (except, unfortunately for a cat)… so your caution before leaving is completely understandable!
Hey Sarah – We had a flue fire here at our lake house a few years ago. Had the sweetest little green enamel woodstove in the downstairs den. Unfortunately, the chimney sweeps that fall had not removed the soot from the clean out and the chimney caught fire. we were very LUCKY – some roof damage and lots of smoke damage – but we were all scared but safe!
We had a wood burning stove in our of our homes. As much as I loved it, the other rooms got really really cold and after a while, it wasn’t worth the work and effort.
Thanks for the story!
In our old house, it was our only heat source. And yes, there were long cold spells in the winter when it was so cold, you could hang meat in the guest bedroom. But that is what quilts are for – many many quilts!
Yay! A shack story. I love the “living warmth” and crackling cheerfulness of a wood stove, too, and sure wish I had one now, mess and all. So toasty warm and satisfying. We are in a deep freeze here today and am praying it doesnt snow as I have to drive and neither my car nor I are equipped for slippery roads.
Happy you liked this new shack post – I miss a fire too when its this cold. It has been bitterly cold with a chance of snow this weekend – but we will be back to our normal 50s by the end of next week. Stay warm, my friend and be extra careful – no slip sliding away!