Settling In For the Winter

Thursday, September 23, 2010
The old Yodel stove
Summer went out like a candle this year and the last three weeks have been drizzly and cold. Today marks the autumnal equinox, as if we need one more reminder that winter just isn't getting farther away. Lately, as we hurry to slop paint on the new shed before it gets too cold, we keep sneaking glances at the wood pile, wondering if it'll be enough to last through an "almost guaranteed to be" five month winter.

It's hard to tell what the winter will truly bring, although we certainly like to devote a fair amount of time speculating on what the winter months might bring. After all, last year's wimpy winter must mean "we're due."  And haven't the fuzzy caterpillars seemed especially fuzzy? As much as I try to avoid the Farmer's Almanac approach to weather predictions, I can't help but remember that the infamous 1991 Halloween Blizzard followed a summer so beastly and muggy that my brother and I spent most of it playing in the unfinished basement. That summer, the frosting on my brother's mid-July birthday cake slid down the sides as he blew out the candles. What does that meltingly awful summer weather sound like? Oh yeah, this summer . . .

But if the ol' north wind decides to dump two - four feet of snow on us this October 31st, we'll be ready. Well, kind of.  (Still haven't quite wrapped my mind around the fact that I'll be living 55 miles away from the nearest grocery store this winter.)  But we do have a brand spankin' new wood stove that will help us burn through that wood pile just a little slower and allows us to use a renewable, carbon neutral energy source for most of our heating this winter.

This is the new Lopi Endeavor stove we bought last 'weekend.' We can fit a ton more wood inside the burn box  and the stove allows us to burn each piece of wood much more efficiently instead of sending most of the firewood's energy up the chimney like that last stove did. Since I'll be working from home all winter, I'm rather fond of the idea of not having to spend most of day tending the fire. After all, there's a reason why Hestia (the Greek goddess of the hearth) always gets forgotten . . . .

Andy warms himself in front of the stove
Once we got the stove home, Andy spent most of the following two days not talking to me. So absorbed in the fitting of pipes and cutting of holes in ceilings and roofs was he that he hardly even remembered to eat until the first fire was crackling in the stove. Now he's taken to sitting on the floor by the stove and smiling at it. He's also taken to talking to me again, although a fair bit of the conversation still centers around the awesomeness of the stove.    

They say "home is where the heart is." But in northern Minnesota, it might be more apt to say "home is where the hearth is." Tonight the stove sends out a warm orb through the cabin, taking the chill off this fall night. Will it be enough to keep us cozy and warm this January? Only time will tell.

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