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Ten things I've learned from heating with wood:

>> Tuesday, November 24, 2009

1)  While a "timberline brown" enamel finish on the wood-burning insert was great in theory and looks lovely now, the fumes emitted during the "curing" process when we first fired the thing up killed more than a few of my brain cells and of course of the rest of the family as well.  I promise, the dogs didn't have any extra to lose, either.  I suspect the toxins emitted also undid some of the air emissions good we thought we were doing by purchasing a high-efficiency wood stove.

2)  Chopping wood has to be one of the most g-d satisfying things I can conceive of.

3)  Stacking wood is satisfying, too, but is a hell of a lot of work.  The growth of the stacked wood pile and the diminishment of the unstacked wood pile bear no relation to one another.

4)  People who sell firewood have dramatically varying definitions for the words "face cord" and "seasoned".  Thus far my experience tells me you get what you pay for - well, I mean, the place that's charging us the most is the one that delivers a full face cord when we order it, and it really is seasoned.  Earlier attempts resulted in our not getting what we paid for.  We got partial, green cords.  Green wood is remarkably hard to burn, bad for the environment, bad for the wood stove and chimney, and bad for my mood.

5)  If my husband beats me home, it's best not to plan on his accomplishing anything in the first hour he's there other than letting the dogs out and starting the fire.  Once the flames start flickering, he will be utterly transfixed and will tinker with the fire for at least 60 minutes.  Hunger, thirst, howling dogs and even a wheedling wife have will no ability to reach him until he's had his fill of fire.

6)  There's nothing quite like coming in from the cold and standing in front of the roaring fire.  It makes winter infinitely more lovable when you're someone who's always cold, like I am.

7)  A hot wood stove is a dog baby sitter.  Hallelujah!  The only time my dogs hold still, ever, is when the stove is roaring hot.  Then they lie still in front of it sometimes for hours at a time, occasionally moaning contentedly and moving only to roll over and roast the cold side.  One of the cats does the same.  She gets so hot I can't even pet her, and I have nightmares about all three of them developing horrifying skin conditions from spending so much time at that temperature.

8)  Heating with woods means the room with the wood stove has to be vacuumed daily.  Not only do stacking and loading wood and wood ashes generate a lot of mess on their own, but the dogs think their main purpose in life is raiding the wood pile and chewing all the wood into minuscule pieces, all over the room. In fact, I think wood chipping is their primary talent.  They're part beaver, I swear.

9)  I will surely never know whether heating with wood was the right choice environmentally, and all that wondering is going to continue to eat at me.  I do recognize, however, that whatever choice we made was probably going to leave me wondering and agonizing.  I can't help myself. 

10)  Good-quality, long cuffed, insulated fireplace gloves are seemingly always sized for men, and large men at that.  My hands are not the size of garbage can lids.  It would be safer when I reach into the fire if I could move my fingers, and didn't have 3 inch long flaps hanging off the tip of each finger.

11)  (I know, I said 10 things, but I can't help myself)  Nylon carpeting in a room with a fireplace is a profoundly stupid idea.  A tiny spark can create a massive ugly black spot, not to mention smolder dangerously.  Fleece long-sleeved clothing doesn't fare much better than nylon carpeting.  Wool?  Now that is a remarkable fiber.  Wool carpeting, however, is an expensive home improvement project I hadn't figured on.  I'll just add it to the very, very long list.

12)  Wood piles collect all sorts of great wildlife, including mice and bugs and amphibians.  They also grow some cool stuff, like fungi and lichen.  Am I the only person who feels horribly guilting putting a log on the fire when it has cool lichen growing on it?

13)  Despite all the work, the mess, the fluctuating temperatures, and the shock to the system of getting out of bed in the morning when the house is 50 degrees, heating with wood is still romantic enough to be worth it.  I have no regrets.  At least not yet.


Sneaksleep November 25, 2009 at 9:25 AM  

Wow, I didn't realize that you guys were actually heating the whole house that way. I am deeply jealous of your fireplace, though, and I'm not even sure that jealousy would diminish if I lived in a climate too warm for fires. Sigh...

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