Keeping a Fire in the Box

The wood stove has been working constantly since Arctic air plunged south several days ago. Actually, winter came early this year, with cold and snow, certainly earlier than last. But until the so-called Siberian Express arrived, we only had to light a fire in the late afternoon. These days we keep feeding the Mørso’s small firebox. 

The wood stove’s door is open to show the fire inside.

I like heating with wood. We have done it for decades. I like the challenge of starting a cold stove with newspaper and kindling or having enough red coals in the morning so I don’t have to. I like the kind of heat a wood stove gives off. I don’t even mind heading outside into the bitter cold to grab armfuls of logs from the stacked wood.

We’ve been burning wood for heat for decades. Our first attempts were risky. We rented a 12-by-24-foot cabin in the middle of New Hampshire, with no indoor plumbing or electricity. We drew water from a stream with buckets after the line to the house froze. We had two kids. I thought it was romantic until late spring.
The cabin had a wood stove, which heated the house’s small interior so well some frigid days we kept the front door open to cool off the place. And, I am embarrassed to say, some times we started a fire in the stove with a little kerosene. I am amazed we didn’t blow ourselves up.
Wood stacked for the winter.

Our next attempt at burning in Western Massachusetts were more successful. We also burn wood in our small home in Taos, where we only have to use a cord in the winter because of the house’s passive solar design. (We don’t turn on the gas heat.)

I can start a fire from cold ashes, thanks to kindling from Hank’s workshop. Our house here in Taos is tight so I have to open the window near the stove a crack to let in air and leave its door ajar until the fire cranks. Sometimes a stubborn fire requires more newspaper and air from my lungs.

This morning the wood stove had a good bed of red coals. My guess is Hank got up in the middle of the night to load the stove. It was a smart move considering it’s not supposed to be above the 20s today and minus digits tonight.

I opened the door and placed in one good-sized log. I loosened the damper and left the door ajar. Within a minute or two the log caught fire.