Wood Stove Provides Warmth

Caleb remembers what it took to keep the wood stove fed as a child, and enjoys the continuing task today.

| January/February 2017

Chainsaw poloroid

Running the chainsaw is just one aspect of a favorite chore that keeps us warm several times over.

Photo by iStockphoto.com/Maurice van der Velden

Nothing beats wood heat. The warmth a woodstove provides is exceptional in its own right, but I love the entire process of heating with wood.

Where I grew up, a woodstove and an attic fan were all we depended on to stay warm during the cold months. About every night of the winter season, you’d find my brothers, my mom, and my dad sitting together in the living room, the middle of the house, where the woodstove was located. That space would get downright warm at times — so hot, in fact, that my dad came up with the term “freeze down,” which meant stepping outside in your underwear and cooling off in the extreme chill — and it was the attic fan’s job to pull that heat through the house.

Some of my earliest and most dear memories involve cutting wood in “Devil’s Lane,” an extremely woolly stretch of timber through which ran a ditch that made cutting and especially hauling the wood a true drag. My dad would do the cutting — I can still remember the icicles hanging off his mustache — and it was my brothers’ and my job to haul the logs, lift them into the bed of the truck, and dream of the day when we were the ones running the saw.

As much as I dreaded those days then, I look back on them now with extreme fondness, and nothing was better after we were done than Mom’s waffles and bacon.

Fast forward about 25 years, and the first country home my wife and I moved into featured an electric furnace, poor insulation, and elements of construction that resulted in extremely drafty winters. During the coldest months, we’d pay in the neighborhood of $900 a month for heat. Even at that price, the furnace, coupled with a pellet stove, could only achieve about a 55-degree temperature according to the indoor thermostat, and colder than that in some parts of the home.

When that’s your existence, you hear that furnace kick on time and time again, spaced entirely too close together, and it’s enough to make you cringe. Spring couldn’t come soon enough, and we couldn’t get out of that house quickly enough.

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