Between an Alaskan storm pushing cold air ahead of it and the natural inclinations of the incipient winter season, temperatures in the area have finally dipped down into the chilly realm. Last night, Mark did battle with the coal stove and got a fire going to keep the house warm. Unless we have more unexpected warm spells, we’ll be keeping the fire up through the winter as it’s far cheaper to heat the house with coal and wood, than the electric baseboard heaters that are the default heat source.
I grew up in houses heated with oil, forced air, or while in Europe, old-fashioned hot water radiators, so the big black beast of a coal stove in the basement that Mark purchased for us last year is a big mystery to me. Once it gets going and it’s properly fed on a regular basis, it keeps the fire going and the heat, very well. Getting it there is a bit of a chore though, and something that I need to learn how to do, so Mark isn’t the only one tending it.
The fireplace on the other hand, I can manage, but unfortunately we were not proactive about putting in a supply of firewood for this winter, so we’re under-supplied to supplement the coal stove with a wood fire in the fireplace upstairs for the time being. As it gets colder, a daily chore for the big boys is collecting kindling from the acre of woods around the house. They’re also still learning about proper stick size, and neat stacking to make it easy to access the materials to get a fire started. They’ve been city kids for most of their lives, so even though we’ve lived in the house for over a year, they’re still learning how to live in the country and adjusting to a slightly different set of necessities.
I think it’s good for them to learn a different way of living than what they’ve been familiar with in the past. I’m hoping it’ll give them a greater degree of independence and understanding, so they know how to take care of themselves, how to stay warm in winter, beyond just turning up the thermostat.