Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Heating with Wood

This is my storybook cabin.

I love, love, love this cabin. I could easily be a hermit.

See the pile of wood to the left? That is woodpile #3, the Big Guns. See,with Storybook Cabin comes very real Wood Heating.  The cabin has a wood stove and no other real heat source. I do have a couple of insufficient "wall heaters" that increase Pacific Power's cash flow, and some great ceramic heaters, but I don't have these on when I'm not home, for fear of being mentioned in the Police Blotter: "The fire appeared to have started from a space heater." So, my main source is wood. And when all is well, this is how it looks:

When all is not well, you have this:

Yes that is a down jacket and a frozen smile.

 I've heated with wood before. In Alaska it was a struggle because wood had to dry out for a year to really burn. Rain forest, remember? And unless you stumbled upon someone clearing a lot, gathering wood meant heading out in a boat to get some. Soon I gave up and resorted to the monitor stove.

Here, wood gathering is a recreational activity.Everyone keeps their sources close to the vest. When asked, they refuse to meet your eyes and mutter vaguely that they are cutting somewhere off the 39 road but that there isn't much left. Better go elsewhere, they advise.

So you cruise along on  a weekend that would be perfect for backpacking, darn it, to fill up a pickup and a trailer. Because others have been more diligent and not put it off until September, the easy pickings are gone. You have to scramble up hills, drop trees in the brush and throw rounds onto the road.  I help a lot by picking blueberries marking the rounds the right length (cause you don’t want them too big) and hauling them all over the place. Road, truck, out of truck to woodpile. It’s a lot of fun. It's also a lot of work, but a strange thing begins to occur: Wood Lust. No matter how much you get, you think you need more.  More, More, More! Until you run out of places to stack it.

The bad thing about heating with wood is that sometimes you are caught unprepared and have to dash out in the middle of the night in a robe to get more. It's freezing so you take a piece from any old place,which later causes the pile to become unbalanced and fall on your boyfriend when he is trying to be helpful and fetch you some. This does not help your relationship. Not that I have ever, ever done this.

 I'm almost done with Woodpile #1 which was easy splitting. Woodpile #2 is a bit farther away and tougher rounds, and then there’s #3, with really big rounds. It’s definitely a challenge to keep up with Storybook’s wood needs. But the truth is, despite the in-house down jacket wearing as the fire heats up, the constant fear of Lack of Kindling, and the woodpile trudging, there’s something I love about heating with wood. I love the radiant heat that comes with a good fire. I love the Caveman TV aspect of staring at the flames. I love the simple equation, fuel, oxygen, heat.

the cats like lying in front of it too.

I like relying on the forest to keep me warm. I feel more connected somehow to the outdoors. If it’s cold outside, I know it. If it’s warmer, I know that too. There's less of a distinction there. It's like living outside, but better.


  1. Great word images and photo images. Liked seeing the Storybook cabin in the winter and picturing your life there in this season. See you in July!

  2. That reminds me of childhood summer vacations on my grandfather's farm. There is something magical about fire, the light and the warmth it gives. I don't think anybody in the future will be writing blog post about central heating units.
    This was a lovely, as usual, piece of writing. Thank you for evoking my childhood memories.

  3. Yup childhood memories here too. I had my fair share of picking Huckleberries more than throw firewood in the back of the truck. I love the heat of a woodstove as opposed to electric heat. Glad you have a "Firewood Angel".

  4. I used to use one of these axes when I split wood for the Grand Hotel and my parents home. It is not a gimmick it works.


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