Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fire Woman’s Domain

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey
That’s me: Fire Woman. I don’t know exactly why, but I have a thing for fire. It’s not the destructive let’s torch the place kind of thing, more like a part of who I am. It must be a throwback from a more primal time of my life. I can see myself as a good Cave-Woman-Wife keeping the cave fires burning, or something like that anyway. Come to think of it, things haven’t changed too much over the eons, but I still can top Rick regarding making fires. I have to be careful what I say though since lately he’s been catching up to me in his fire-making abilities.

Above is our wood cookstove at the cabin. She’s not old if that’s what you’re thinking. She was brand-spanking new in 2001 when we bought her. A Heartland range. Not a cheap investment, about $5,000 back then, but worth every penny. I opened the door to the wood box so you could see the nice fire burning merrily within. This baby can heat the whole cabin; all 1,000 square feet of it. We usually start a fire first thing in the morning to take the chill off, even in summer. The cabin is at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, so the nights can get downright chilly.

It also can roast a mean turkey. It takes a while to get a good bed of coals to get the oven up to 375 or 400 degrees, and once there you have to keep stoking it up in order to keep the temperature even. We’ve done a couple of turkeys and baked muffins mostly. As you can imagine, the whole time you are using the oven you are also heating up the cabin—a lot. So, not a good summertime activity unless you open all the doors and windows! And we typically only use the cook top for heating water. There’s a reason for the old saying of “slaving over a hot stove.” I don’t know how they did it year-round.

There is nothing quite like the heat from a wood stove. It’s cozy, and warms you right down to your bones. When the stove is going the propane heat never comes on. It’s just a shame that we don’t have hardwoods to burn. We have to make due with pine and aspen which burn quickly and are not nearly as dense. We go through a lot of wood! But, the more I have to add wood, the more I get to play the role of Fire Woman. Not a bad thing at all.


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