Morning Chore

Every morning and sometimes evening for the last four months I have gone out to our wood furnace to add wood to the fire. This is the last of our wood supplies for the season before we kick back to our oil furnace. Somewhere between 4 am and 6am every morning, I make my way outside with the dogs to our furnace. Some mornings it’s snowing, some mornings it’s below zero with gale force winds. It may sound crazy but I love going out to the wood furnace.

Early in the season we retrieve the wood that’s stacked around the shed and chicken coop to feed into the fire. This season since November I would pull wood from the stacks sometimes covered in snow and load into either the wheel barrow or sled depending on how deep the snow. Inside the woodshed, four cords plus cords of wood are stacked up next to the wood furnace for later in the winter. We use all the wood on the outside first this year since we had a stack of seasoned wood outside leftover from last year among the green wood that we needed to use to initially get the fire started. We use green wood so that it burned slowly. You don’t want dry wood like you would use in your fireplace. If you used that all the time you’d be loading it all the time and burn through more wood overall.

We harvest some of the wood we use from our own property – a mixture of downed trees from storms to a tree that needs to be moved so we can get the gator through our trails we have on the homestead.

The smell of the smoke billowing from the chimney fills the air with scents of rock maple, ash, beech and oak. I breathe it in – I love the smell of a campfire and it initially filled me with memories of childhood camp outs but now that is mixed with newer memories of living in New Hampshire and being out with the dogs. I find it cathartic in ways – going through the routine of feeding the dogs in the morning, donning my purple work overalls, followed by Sorrels which have cramp-ons attached which I never remove. I have found having boots with cramp-ons to be a necessity to get through the rough New Hampshire winters. After the boots, I put on my purple Carhartt work jacket zipping it up before putting on my leather work gloves and heading out the door into the elements.

Despite some of the harsh conditions I have never once thought, “Ugh, I have to do out and deal with the fire.” I look forward to breathing in the cold, crisp air; listen to the wind blow through the trees, or the dogs barking at who knows what. My morning exercise bending to pick up to 20 pieces of wood, weighing anywhere from 5 lbs. to 25 lbs. ,throwing them into the firebox of our wood furnace. My upper arms have firmed up over the last four years between what we do to prepare for the winter in harvesting our wood, splitting and stacking 9-10 full cords of wood and my morning chore.

The coming weeks my morning routine will be in transition as I wait for the warming of my raised garden beds to that I can begin the spring/summer morning garden chores where the dogs and I with coffee in hand patrol the garden. Today, however was the last of our wood and I am always a little saddened by the day the wood runs out. No more evenings, after he does his fire check before crawling into bed will Mark smell like smoke – mmmm…. And even though it signals the end of the rough cold winter and the approaching days of spring and increasing light, I will miss the routine which has become so rote four months in. Until next season, just 8 months away.

 This is journal entry is also my entry for Lillie-Put blog 2020 Home Photo Challenge.

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