How We Stayed Warm

Warm 01s

I grew up in a house with a wood burning stove, so all of my winter memories are tinged with the scent of smoke.

Warm 12s

Mother ordered the first load of wood mid-summer, which gave it time to cure. She ordered a cord at a time, requesting a mixture of kindling and longer burning logs. It arrived as a tumbled pile at the end of the driveway, and we hauled it off by armfuls and wheelbarrow loads, stacking neat rows under the tin roof of our open-sided pole shed.

Warm 06s

Starting in my teens, I claimed the wood as my own domain because I enjoyed the physical activity of hauling and stacking. Plus, it gave me an excuse to be outside with the animals, who followed me back and forth as I worked.

Warm 11s

Mother disliked storing firewood on the porch, so she rarely wanted more than one day’s supply brought down each afternoon. However, she relented when we had snow or ice storms. Then I would carry wood until my shoulders and back ached.

(This photo is from Mother's archive, not mine.)

Or until I got bored and wandered off to explore the pasture and woods.

Warm 14s

Warm 15s

The stove was undeniably harder to maintain than central heat, but it was also undeniably warmer.

Warm 09s

Warm 07s

Except it didn’t heat the entire house. Our den was a smoky, sleepy haven, but my bedroom, in the opposite end of the house, stayed so chilly that blankets were not sufficient for a comfortable night’s sleep. Even so, I didn’t suffer. I had plenty of furry companions to keep me warm.

Warm 05s