12 January 2007

Warm thoughts

Heating a home with just a wood stove and good intentions can be an adventure.

Late last night, just before he came to bed, Mr. Wren kindly stacked logs of fragrant almond into our fireplace wood stove insert, closed the stove door, switched off the lights and turned in.

The idea is that the wood burns all night, leaving me with a nice, hot, glowing bed of coals in the very early morning. Then I repeat the process throughout the day. We stay warm.

Simple enough.

But as I write this, I’m wearing a jacket, have a down quilt over my lap and a tiny, office-type personal heater blowing on my flannel-clad legs. My outdoors cap is on my head, pulled down over my ears. The cat keeps trying to work his way between me and my jacket, which makes typing interesting. I grip my coffee cup in both hands for a minute, take a sip, put it down and type, quick, before my fingers stiffen up.

On Tuesday night a storm all the way from Alaska slid down the Pacific Northwest and into California, bringing us the coldest temperatures we’ve had this winter so far, but very little in the way of rain or snow. I’m wondering why the National Weather Service called it a “storm” at all – the all-caps severe weather warnings on my Yahoo weather feature started last Friday.

When I think of storms and severe weather, I think of dark skies and blowing rain or snow, the kind of weather that makes me glad I have shelter and a warm fire. But nothing much happened with this storm, except the mercury in the thermometer dropped dramatically. Yesterday was sunny most of the day, then it clouded up for a little while. Miniscule, dry snowflakes fell. It was pretty. I entertained thoughts of a white winter wonderland.

Then the lonely snow cloud moved on and the sun came back out, dashing my hopes.

This morning it’s clear and sunny – and 18 degrees outside. It’s 52 degrees in my kitchen, which is better than 32, of course. The reason it’s so cold indoors? Mr. Wren turned off the powerful little fan under the stove while he loaded it full of wood – and forgot to turn it back on. So overnight, the stove warmed an area of about six feet around it, and nothing else.

As you might have surmised from previous posts, I do love winter. I enjoy the cold, as long as I can stay warm. Snow makes me smile with its pristine beauty and silence, and I don’t mind gray skies and rain in the least. Rain on the roof is a peaceful sound. I even like the sound of my windshield wipers in the car and the shoosh of the tires on the wet pavement.

Yes, I’m a little odd.

But this wood stove business does have its drawbacks, even as I enjoy the delicious heat it produces when we’ve done everything right. One thing is for sure – I never know what I’ll wake up to on winter mornings.

No comments: