I talked to a friend the other day who is about to celebrate 48 years of marriage. She is excited and we are both amazed about the years we have had such wedded bliss, me and my other half are going on 40 years. Marriage is the one job in life that you go into where there is no experience required. For instance…
It’s that time of the year. The nights are a bit cold and the mornings are too. So that means that it fire building season. Uh, let me clarify; build a wood fire–in our wood stove—in the mornings—in our house. Like many in our neck of the woods we supplement our heating with a wood stove. There truly is nothing like a wood fire to warm your back side. That instant feeling of heat coming through your shirt and hitting your back and then turning around and the heat fluffs it way up to your face and you can feel your cheeks sucking up the BTUs and getting all—well red in the face. Ah, winter, it has so many facets to it.
Every year it takes about a month to get back the grove of being able to build the perfect fire in the mornings. Setting the kindling; we use old newspapers, arranging the wood; we use one piece of wood from a real tree and one sawdust pressed and paper covered store bought log. We used to use only real tree wood but have found that with age comes the need for ease, and then lighting and hearing that woof, woof, woof of heat being created. If we use these little zoomer logs, as I call them, our real tree wood supply will last a lot longer. It’s hard to explain as most things I come up with are hard to explain—that may be why my other half sometimes just shakes his head and looks at me weirdly. Many of you, I am sure, can shake your head yes in agreeance.
It’s an art getting the placement of each piece to set the fire set correctly. Or so I have been told—time and time again. We differ, my other half and I on just how to get the stove going in the morning. We look at it all together differently. He says one piece of paper, a stick of wood laid in the stove from side to side and then a pressed log thingy laying from front to back across the wood. This way, again, so I have been told, will allow air to get under the logs so the fire starts better and keeps going.
My way? Munched up paper first, wood from front to back with the pressed log thingy side to side so it lights easily. I have come to learn that it’s because I’m left handed and he’s right handed that he does things so backwards. There is no earthly reason to put the log thingy clear to the back of the stove, where it’s harder to light, unless you are right handed. Maybe it is easier to reach into our stove and light the fire towards the back with your right hand than it is with your left. I wouldn’t know as I, again, am left handed.
So the first person up in the morning is designated the fire starter. Depending on just how cold it is, I am first up. I to do my little fire dance and sing, I did it my way, as I lay in the fire and light the zoomer log laying side to side. But then comes the fiddling with the damper. There are two. Of course there are.
One damper is on the front of the stove and swivels open and closed and one is in the stove pipe and turns with a squeak and crunch of something inside the pipe. Now, again as I have been told, to get the fire going just right you need to understand the dynamics of how air flows and the increasing and decreasing of that air. How air fuels fire and at what rate the air and fuel mix and the angle the air hits the wood and goes over and under the pieces causing an updraft… Why did I have to marry a pilot? I am what pilots would call a seat of the pants kind of gal. I just light it and let the fire go, or if I were flying I would just take off and let the plane do the rest. Fires and airplanes, now there are two things that really have no business being explained in the same breath.
So we two differ on the fire building. That is the married way. The trick isn’t in getting the fire going, really anyone can get a fire going. No the real trick is in keeping it going, year after fire-building-season year.
Trina lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts with her at email@example.com.