Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wood for the fire . . . .

Our wood stove
He who cuts his own wood, warms himself twice.
That quote, which is more than likely on old proverb, has been attributed to folks as disparate as Henry David Thoreau and Henry Ford, two gentlemen who shared little but a first name. Since our household depends on wood for the heat we get during the winter months (our sole exception being an oil-filled electric space heater in the room where our birds reside), we can attest to the truth of that statement. 

Though we do buy loads of wood from a couple of local sources, we always have tried to  save a bit of money by searching the forest around us for fuel for our fires. I'm not a woodsman by any stretch of the imagination, though I can handle a chain saw fairly well---enough to get the job done. I'm not about to start falling trees (I leave that to the experts), but I look for the odd "leaners"; trees that have another tree or brush holding them up so they are not on the ground and full of rot. They provide dry and mostly seasoned wood for our needs.

There is more than the financial savings involved here, however. By taking this effort, I have a more direct connection to my source of warmth than those who depend on a thermostat to regulate their comfort. I know where my heat comes from because I am part of the process. There is a sense of gratitude and awareness that I never had when I depended on an electric or gas furnace for heat. It also requires a constant vigilance to keep the fire going, adding large chunks of hard wood and shutting down the stove before going to bed so there will be coals to rev it up again in the morning, watching for sparks when the doors are open, and of course maintaining a wood supply to feed the flames.

I think of recent studies I've read where young people who have never seen a farm---except maybe on TV or at the movies (if anyone even goes to movies anymore)---think the source of food is a grocery store or the refrigerator. There is such a tragic disconnect in that perception. Food, heat, clothing, and other essentials become things manufactured in factories, rather than harvested on farms or created by crafts people. This is not just a nostalgic thing which is quickly going the way of the dodo and buffalo; it is a recipe for dysfunction and ignorance as we forget the natural world we are still a part of and dependent on.

I really love our wood stove. It is a center of our home during the darkest months of the year. And I am happy my grand daughter likes to feed and poke at the fire. She at least will have some memories of the place that warmth comes from.

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