One day’s wood.

There are things that must be done, before the day can start. Whoever rolls out of bed first gets it going. It’s nice that chores integrate seamlessly, and without comment or rancor. It just rolls. There are occasional discussions about priorities. Cats must be fed and the cat-door opened for the day. Coffee water must be put on to boil. If I’m up first, I see to the cats first, because otherwise they get underfoot. For Rick, there is no priority greater than coffee in the morning. (And the cats seem to know it and, with him, they don’t interfere.)

Then, while waiting for the water, the coffee is ground and put in the filter. These discreet steps can be done by either of us, and we frequently just step in, ad hoc, to keep the flow of it going. Once there’s a steaming mug of coffee for each of us, we may just read the paper for a bit. Depending upon the plan for the day, I’ll often do the set up for the fire–clean the glass on the wood stove and carry up several armloads of firewood from the wood-crib outside the downstairs door, to load the copper boiler behind the stove. In “normal winter weather” we use what’s in the boiler each day. The house is small, and well-insulated.

We’re abnormally picky about keeping the glass clean, because we enjoy the aesthetic aspects of the fire. It’s a big part of our version of winter cozy. We don’t light the fire until later, sometime in the afternoon. When the house hits 62 degrees, it’s time for the fire. (16.6 C) Again, whoever feels chilled first usually takes on the fire-building task. It’s amazing how dead-on we are to that temperature threshold. We don’t live in the world of thermostat controls. There’s an overhead fan to circulate the heat. It’s surprisingly effective, keeping the entire house balanced within a couple of degrees.

Usually, one or the other of us will clean up around the wood stove, after the wood is brought up, and before we get on to other tasks. One of the things they don’t tell you about heating with wood, is that it can be very messy–with bits of bark and ash flying all over. It helps to make tidying up part of a regular routine. Otherwise, you wake up one day and realize the house is a disaster–covered in dust and ash and wood bits. Once a week or so, we have to ‘muck out the stove,’ shoveling out the ash and charcoal bits. Most of that goes into the composter. All these steps are a small price to pay for winter warmth, under our own control. We do it without much thought, that is, until things like Texas happen. Then we remember to be grateful.

These things done, we get on with the rest of the day.