Friday, January 11, 2013

Sharing the Warmth via Email

Friday, January 11, '13

Dear Abby, Nick, Jake and Zach,

cc Marina, Leah, Ace

I am just coming inside to warm my fingers on the computer keyboard, as I have returned from a  pioneer venture into the deep winter wonderland out back!  To gather fire wood.  And forage for kindling.  (Call me Paul Bunyan!)

We've never run out before.  Of wood, that is. Specifically, the kind of wood we store inside the house, right under the wood burning stove. 

Well, actually, we've run out a couple of times and either Abby or I had to TREK OUT TO THE GARAGE ... and pull firewood off the wheelbarrow.  PHEW ...

But yesterday we were all far too excited about going skiing at Mount Wachusett to remember that, I, your intrepid mother, had recently learned to use our wood burning stove and its many steam-punk knobs and pulleys and bobbins SO effectively, I build A LOT of fires these days.  

All the time.  

Even when it's 55 degrees out. (Especially then, because the sub-arctic wind chill doesn't blow down the chimney and snuff out my fledgling sparks. The recent cold snap was so frustrating that way.)

Anyway, we all keep forgetting I am home building successful fires so we all forget that the wood supply needs to be replenished.  

Due to Daddy having a job, he went off early this morning in pursuit of an income but first, he built a fire with what appeared to be the very last scraps of bark and sawdust-kindling, then tossed on three of five logs.

When I finally remembered to go down to stoke it once the house temp dropped to 50, around noon, it had long since gone out.  

There were still two logs left and puh-LENTY of bark mulch and Butane to get a fresh fire started -- and when those methods failed, I tore up some old textbooks from a 9th grade grammar class I no longer teach. Then I used a bunch of decorative waxed firestarter pinecones that your cousin Nathan of Ohio and of Boy Scouts gave to us last Christmas. (Or maybe it was for Dad's birthday four summers ago.) Anyway, they were SO crispy from the "long seasoning process” -- as well as the silver glitter and, I think, airplane glue -- well, those things lit up like ...a plutonium Christmas tree.

They were so flammable they vaporized themselves before I could get those logs onto the flash-inferno.


I  C A L L E D   Y O U R   F A T H E R  to ask what I should do.  

He instructed me to put on my freshly-cleaned and snowed-on green ski jacket and ski-boots and ski-gloves and open the garage door and drive the empty wheelbarrow outside around the truck and over a snow mound into a snow-trail off into the woods to ... pick kindling. Which is made of hibernating saplings that died from being so close to the chlorine pool.  

Then I was to push my medieval mono-wheeled vessel farther forward to harvest fire wood from under the green tarp which, as those of you know who helped stack that wood out there, is located 4.9 kilometers beyond the cabin nestled deep in the forest you can only see when the trees lose their leaves.

I had to unzip my jacket, I was so hot from the trek. An empty wheelbarrow is pretty cumbersome and unwieldy, although I will say, this one's pretty aerodynamic because it kept catching wind-gusts so I had to wrangle it back to earth by yanking on the two handles as they were suspended mid-air over my head.

Did you know that in winter, a LOT of mutant sapling branches are coiled around various pieces of snowy underbrush and rock, and look EXACTLY like pythons?  

I felt like we lived in the Everglades instead of Evergreen Country, between all the hissing snakes and snapping alligator-heads I navigated my flying wheelbarrow around.

Anyway, I filled the bottom of the wheelbarrow with tons of kindling -- leaves, flaked pieces of tarp, some burlap, a tire -- then I tossed all the logs I could lift and made Layer Number Two. 

When I realized I couldn't build a good fire with one log, I did some meditative yoga and then I prayed to the baby Jesus and BA-ZING-ga... I was able to load that puppy up.  It was HEAPED with as much firewood as that entire 700 square-cubit space could hold.

Do you know that a full wheelbarrow drives itself from its own weight as it barrels along over an ice trail downhill toward the house, at warp speed?

Pushing it empty UP that 80-degree grade to Heavenly, my personal backyard ski resort, almost killed me, but I nearly died for real as the wheelbarrow dragged me down the hill by my ski-jacket's left Velcro wrist-tab that a handle-splinter caught on. 

They say front-wheel drive is the most dangerous for winter driving.

Oh it is.

Besides snow tires for my Sebring, I am getting that wheelbarrow tire chains today.

I just thought I should let you all know that – for me, just as for Pioneer Women from the Great Westward Expansion -- there is NOTHING I cannot do.

I am off now to pour gasoline on my kindling, which I chopped up really well with chicken shears (the tire was even more tender than Walmart’s boneless breasts), and we ought to have a roaring blaze to warm our hands by in no time.

The frostbite in my fingers has eased some from typing.  (It's not super cold today: only 22!  But I could only find the fingerless fashionista gloves Jake and Ace gave Abby for Christmas last year. I might have left my ski gloves in a car on a mountain somewhere.  ?  I'm not really sure.)

Anyway, I wanted you to know how self-sufficient I am this winter, so none of you need worry, especially now that Daddy is embarking on his Great One Week and 72 Hour Health And Wellness Excursion from Monday January 14 through Friday January 18!