Saturday, November 1, 2008


Firewood is the chief source of heat for my
home. I live in a region with moderately cold
winters and prodigious wood supply which
developers are always struggling to dispose of. I
have back-up electric heat and my monthly bill
sometimes gets as high as $200, although that's
due in part to my wife's fondness for hot showers.

There is an airtight woodstove in the kitchen
and convection heats the whole house. It adds to
ambiance and the kitchen becomes the chief
gathering-place in the winter, where the temperature
in the room is often around 75 or 80.

I cut and split almost all the wood I burn,
myself. While I crosscut with electricity I do
almost all the splitting with an old sledgehammer
that came out of the railroad yard, and a couple of
steel wedges. An average winter sees three or four
cords go through my stove.

There are those who say that I must do it for
therapy. I know that it feels good. I'm pretty
sure that therapy is just an indulgence for people.
I think that's fine, but I do think that they are
likely to get better results if they label it
correctly. At any rate, it does more for me than
alcohol or drugs.

There are probably people who applaud my use of
a renewable energy source. It puts no sulfur,
mercury, or carbon monoxide in the air, after all.
My local jurisdiction still takes issue with the
practice. It does put some soot in the air.
If everyone burned wood the air might get pretty
thick. Or maybe they just don't appreciate that I'm
not paying as high taxes to the fuel vendors.

There are probably others who say that I do it for
my health. Certainly I have never had any serious
illness or broken bones. I admit that I have
occasionally snickered when a young person complains of
miscellaneous obscure and phantom back problems or other
pains. I have heard that vigorous exercise reduces the
risk of cancer. At any rate, I don't have cancer yet,
so maybe its true.

It does seem to me that it must have an impact on
my sex appeal. I am still surprised at how many offers
I get from women, some of them young and very attractive,
more than at any time in my life. I don't think that's
because of the white hairs percolating all over my cranium
these days, or the wrinkles furrowing their way deeper into
my skin as I approach 60. Do they ask me because I am
shorter than they are? I am not sure about that either, do
they think that makes me easier to boss around?

Nope. I just do it for the heat.

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