I’m entering the new season with a sense of resolve: I intend to keep my home warm.
Even though we’ve been heating exclusively with wood since moving to the homestead, I find that I tend to think of wood as an auxiliary heat source, even somewhat of a luxury. This comes from how I grew up.
My dad loves heating with wood. The first home I remember, in Washington state, had a big fireplace. When we lived in Wrangell, Alaska, Dad installed a small Vogelzang wood stove in the manse where we lived. The house had its own heating system. The wood heat augmented it, but mostly it supplied ambiance. He’s had wood stoves in other homes in which he and Mom lived after I grew up and left home. Some evenings, when we visited, Michelle and I would be driven outside by the heat on a warm night when Dad couldn’t resist lighting the stove.
Now, I forget all too often that the wood stove is the only heating option.
In our cabin of thick, insulating logs, we can generally stay comfortable in the warmer months, roughly May to September, without wood stove fires. The warmth from the water heater about every other day for showers, and occasional venting of a hot oven augment the days’s warmth adequately.
Still, I fall into the trap of looking at the calendar and deciding whether we should or should not have a fire, rather than judging each day by its individual warmth.
I admit, this gets more intense at the beginning and end of the wood heat season. In the spring, I’m eager to eke out the season’s remaining wood, reluctant to burn it all. In autumn, after a long season of cutting and hauling a winter’s worth of wood by hand, largely by myself, I’m stingy with what I’ve accumulated.
Luckily for us, this works for us most of the time. We own a lot of warm clothing, of course, so we can keep warm that way. Still, I struggle with remembering that the wood heat is a necessity, not an option. If the house is too cold, we have but one way to remedy that!
In the shoulder seasons, I have a hard time adjusting. After making daily fires all winter, I find it difficult to break that habit. Once I have, I sometimes have difficulty starting up again, as the warmth waxes and wanes from day to day. Our recent hot spell got interrupted by a day or two of heavy rain and cool temperatures before returning to sunny and warm yesterday. I’m managing to keep from going overboard on both hot and cold, but it isn’t easy!
One would think that after 10 years of owning this place, I’d have figured it out by now. In my defense, I’m getting better; I might almost be there. I’m beginning to regard the woodpile as a constant project, both of accumulating fuel, and using it. Proof reading this post, I realize that part of this process might even need to include changing my vocabulary, divorcing myself from terms like “a winter’s wood.”
So, I resolve to keep us warm the only way I can, no matter what the calendar says about what time of year it is.