As y’all know, I’m Southern.  And so happy to call Montana my adopted home.

However, I think that being born in Virginia during one of the hottest Junes on record means that my bones can’t take the kind of cold that other Montanans allow to creep into their living rooms.  I don’t cotton to being chilly. I also don’t care much for propane heat, and I certainly don’t enjoy paying the propane bill.

Happily, we have a lovely wood stove in our living room, where I spend 98% of my waking time.  In January, the first time in a long time that I built a fire by myself,  I was shocked when only the paper burnt, and the logs didn’t catch.  How could this be happening?  I grew up on a farm, watching my dad, my brothers, and in more recent years, my now-husband, lay fires with great frequency.  I knew what I was doing!

Apparently, and this revelation will really shock Honeydew, I watched but did not absorb, I listened but heard only the satisfying snap the fire makes when it catches.  After much trial and error, I have learned to build quite the fire.  A good fire, the kind that takes the chill out of your marrow and dries out your fleecy fake Uggs, consists of 2 logs on the bottom, 2 laid crosswise on their tops, and a wad of whatever paper is handy as kindling.  For me, that ‘s usually law firm correspondence that needs to be burned.  This method is proving to be fairly foolproof for our wood stove, and I’ve been building a fire every night, once the true-dark sets in.  I turn my dad’s recliner away from the view, since it is nighttime, and pull it close enough to the wood stove that I can rest my feet on the hearth.  I leave the door open to watch the flames twist and surge as they consume the fuel.  I write my blog posts by this ancient light, or read, or simply stare into the tangerine and turquoise depths of the fire.  I am warm.  I am happy.

Isn’t it romantic?

Until the next morning, when I go out to the garage and see this problem on my hands:

That, my friends, is a woodbox that needs filling.  I sigh.  I go in the house and pull on my lone pair of Carhartts, having previously discovered that yoga pants and wood-gathering don’t mix.  Down a pair of yoga pants as a result of that lesson learned.  I steal Brother Dear’s Carhartt jacket out of the closet.  I sit down and lace up my Real Montana Woman boots that Honeydew gave me for Christmas – not a thing about ’em that’s cute, but my feet have yet to get cold in them.  I go into the utility/pantry room and easily locate my work gloves:

I say easily not because my name is written on them, but because Honeydew & co are all in other areas of the country right now, and so the only person who can misplace them is me.  Not that I would ever misplace them.  My name is written on them in hopes of other people not wearing them, and therefore not misplacing them.  Got this trick from my dad, who writes “D” for Dad on all of his nice socks.  Not that such action actually stops me from wearing them.  Moving on.

This is the woodshed.  And as you can see, there is a drift about six feet deep surrounding the woodshed.  Making transporting the wood via wheelbarrow from the woodshed to the house the sort of near-Babb gal’s workout that I will brag to the Wii Fit about later.  I push the wheelbarrow up the drift, trying not to curse the lovely weather that has made my track soft.  I admire the lilt to the woodshed, which is supported inside by a cable, and wonder which windstorm will eventually blow it down.  Like the Big, Bad Wolf.

I park the wheelbarrow at the top of the drift and jump down onto the bare ground surrounding the woodshed.  The wheelbarrow’s lip is now about a foot above my head.  I admire the nearby dog house, in which Buck is clearly not sleeping these days, that we call the Dog Mahal:

The door to the woodshed came off its hinges around Christmas time, and no one, including me, has bothered to fix it yet.  So it’s held onto the woodshed by a piece of wire.  I unravel the wire, move the door out of my way, and begin the task at hand.

Four wheelbarrows full later, I replace the door on its hinges and make my last trip to the garage.

Isn’t this a beautiful sight?  Excuse me while I go tend to my fire.  Would hate to let it drop below 70 in here!

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