let’s toast marshmallows over the baseboard heater

How do.  Come on in, mosey on over to the fireplace, take off

those wet boots and dry your feet while we swap yarns.


There’s something inherently folksy about heating with wood.

It might be because it’s our most interactive way of warming

ourselves.  Furnaces and heat pumps do their job out of sight

at the flick of a switch.  Passive solar is too laid back to earn

our affection.  Steam radiators are too moody.


Nobody ever told tall tales sitting around a floor register.  I’ve

never heard anyone say “let’s toast marshmallows over the

baseboard heater”.  And I’ve listened to a lot of people.


Heating with wood is different.  You have to actively seek out

your fuel, whether you cut your own or have it delivered.  You

learn that a grease-stained pizza box makes a good intermediary

between paper and kindling.  You realize that when nature prunes

your trees, the blown-down limbs can go into the firebox instead

of the landfill.  You appreciate that ashes can be used in your



We heat with wood partly out of necessity, mostly out of choice.

Since we’re off the grid, we have to use diesel gas to supplement

our micro-hydro to run the electric baseboards.  A lot of diesel.

Diesel that’s not available on the island.


Wood we got.  That’s one of the perks of living in a forest.  In fact,

a logging company is doing a clear-cut about a mile from the farm.

The trees are down but can’t be hauled out until March because

winter has ravaged the gravel road access.  Our friend Lee and I

plan to harvest the smaller trees in February.


This is not only fine with the loggers, they benefit from it.  All that

they cut and leave behind is measured.  The company then has to

pay the government a stumpage fee because it harvested on leased

crown land.  So the more of the little guys –perfect for firewood —

we take, the less they pay.


Besides, I save on health club dues.  Cutting, splitting and hauling

wood is strenuous.  I’ve never done it without sweating like Ted

Haggard at the YMCA.


I don’t have any statistics on how eco-friendly wood heat is.  Lee

says it takes him half a gallon of gas to cut a cord (128 square feet)

of wood.  Some of our neighbours only use 4 – 5 cords per season.

That’s got to be more efficient than occupying Iraq.


Since our wood stove is at the end of the house, heat isn’t evenly

distributed.  No matter.  The stove is in the living room where,

oddly enough, we do most of our living.  The cathedral ceiling

in the room funnels heat into the  bathroom and our bedroom

upstairs.  Because it’s so well insulated, it stays quite comfy up

there.  We even slept with the windows open last night.


The kitchen stays warm because of the cook stove.  Tonight it

will be especially cozy because Jude will be baking chocolate

chip cookies with Maese as we babysit her and Mowat.  Mowat

and I will be here in the office, the coldest room in the house,

playing “Harpoon Lagoon” on the computer.  We’ll likely stay

warm enough from the laughing and shouting.  If not, we’ll

find a video of a fire burning in a fireplace, put up our feet

and swap some yarns.



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