Warm Is A State of Mind

Stacking firewood in a shedImage via WikipediaSaw a person be hypnotized once at an event back in college.

The hypnotist told the person he was handing them a crisp red apple, which they consumed before the audience with delight. It was an onion. We experience what we expect.

So I may have found a similar way to save on firewood this winter. I’ll make it sound warm. I’m thinking that might just save me a half cord of real heat.

If she hears the sound of the wood stove ticking and popping, maybe it’ll taste like an apple.

If she hears warm, maybe she’ll feel it.

For those of you not familiar with the fact that a stove half filled with firewood carries on a gentle percussive rattatatt of expansion and contraction, this 20 second recording of our stove might be a revelation. (With the mic right under the stove, the sound is more harsh than my ear hears it just now some eight feet away.)

For me, it is so common I don’t really hear it, though I miss it in spring when we put the stove to rest.

Speaking of things combustible, we’re thinking about replacing our small stove near the kitchen with a new version of the old-fashioned wood cook stove. That’s what these folks in the picture must be laying up wood for–you see how small they split or cut their fuel–cutting up limbs and branches means a good deal more work than cutting larger “body wood” for a heating stove like ours.

And let me disabuse you of the notion that using wood for heating or cooking is free. But for the most part, the cost is worth the comforting tick-tick-tick on a cold December morning.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. If “She” is anything like my “She” it’ll never work. Though I have been known to turn the fan on the central unit on just so she will hear it going, it seldom works.

    I saw on Doug’s site that y’all are getting a bit of the white stuff…Don’t y’all call that snow or some such? I was just out for a walk in shorts and a t-shirt soaking up some 60 degree sun.

  2. My extraordinarily limited experience with the wood cookstoves is that it’s a challenge to control/maintain a steady temperature.

    Yes, I know it was the way one baked ever so not so long ago, but I certainly didn’t acquire the knack. And it didn’t pop nearly so satisfyingly.

    As always, your mileage may vary.