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First Fire

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

Is there anything messier than a wood stove, or a fireplace?  Wet, dirt-bearing wood gets carted in from outside, ashes are carted out from inside.  There are newspapers, spent matches, smoke.

On the other hand, is there anything sweeter, cozier, more comforting than a wood fire?  Anything–short of the smell of cooking–that more powerfully evokes the feeling of home and, well, hearth?

We used to live in a house with two gas fireplaces, one in the kitchen/family room and one in the bedroom.  They were the kind that simulates a wood fire, with the blue gas flames shooting up behind some fake logs.  My husband rigged the bedroom fireplace with a thermostat, and on extra-cold nights we would awaken to a whoosh, and the eerie blue light of the gas spontaneously combusting beyond our bed.   

Those gas fireplaces warmed up the room in seconds.  They were clean, cheap, ecological…and every time I lit one I longed for a good, messy, real wood fire.

Today has been rainy and windy and what Vermont meteorologists call \”raw\”–the first inkling of what awaits us in the coming months.  I\’ve had to make extra sure that, soaking grass underfoot and rain pouring from above notwithstanding, Bisou remembers what the command \”do your business!\” means.  Back in the house from their necessary excursions, the three dogs have been grateful for the extra-large towel I keep to rub them down.

Now Lexi and Wolfie are blissed out in front of the stove.  Bisou is at her usual post, scrunched up against my elbow so I can barely type.  I closed the hens in early this evening, threw them some extra sunflower seeds, and turned on their light for cheer.

I know how glad I\’ll be next spring to be done with the woodstove, to put the ashes on the garden and cart the kindling box and log carrier down to the basement.  But for now there\’s nowhere I\’d rather be than staring into the flames, with the snoring dogs and the snapping logs, and the rain beating hard against the window panes. 

6 Responses

  1. Have you investigated a woodstove that you could vent through an outside wall? And, despite what I've said about them, gas fireplaces (which need no venting) are better than nothing, and better for the earth.

  2. We have a wood stove in the basement (this was a bizarre concept to me when I moved to Vermont 16 years ago, but now I see the practice as the result of Divine Revelation), a fireplace in the living room and another woodstove in the studio that Tom and I used to share but which is now his. When we kicked the cars out into the the Vermont weather in order to make a separate studio for me we wrestled with the question of how to heat it. I vividly remember my sweet and accommodating husband looking me in the eye and saying \”I'm not running three woodstoves!\” As a result I have one of those fake woodstoves that run on gas in my studio and…I absolutely love it! All the comfort and soul warmth of a woodstove at the flick of a switch!Oh, and they do need venting but it is much simpler and much less expensive than a chimney – basically you cut a hole in the wall and stick a pipe in it.

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