Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Compromise Keeps the Home Fires Burning

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Compromise Keeps the Home Fires Burning

Article excerpt

It sits majestically in our living room, looking just a little worse for wear. The cheap metal door handle is a replacement for the handsome wooden one it came with. And its weight is supported by two bricks placed under each of its four corners; the original legs long gone. But, if it has lost a few battles, it has definitely won the war.

Just after we moved into our new (circa 1941) house last spring, my husband buffed the wood stove to its original smoky-colored sheen, polished the window in the door until it shone crystal clear, then moved it into a place of honor.

"See all these vents?" I pointed out while walking the perimeter of the living room. "Why, I'll bet that stove could heat the whole house from down in the cellar." "But I want it here," answered my husband as he set the thing down, "where I can see it from there," motioning toward our supremely comfortable couch. My husband loves everything about a wood stove; from cutting and stacking wood, to coaxing a fire out of a few pieces of newspaper, several sticks of wood, and a match. He even loves the smell his hair and clothes take on when he's got a roaring fire going, opens the stove, and is briefly enveloped in a cloud of smoke before he shoves in the log and closes the door. The problem is, I am from the fireplace school of thought. I was raised in California, where a fire is enjoyed for its aesthetic value. My husband, a born-and-bred New Englander, appreciates a fire for its ability to keep one warm - something a wood stove does quite nicely. Soon after we were married and living in Maine, we rented a home, during which time I began my wood-stove apprenticeship. That first stove was extremely short and narrow, and I was squeamish about feeding wood into it. Many were the times I would jerk the door open and shove in the shortest pieces of wood I could find, only to have them protrude through the open door. This always caused panic as I struggled with the door before yanking out the now-smoldering wood and depositing the mess on the floor. I felt fairly certain that, one day, I would burn down the house. While I was not fond of dealing with wood stoves, I felt no resentment toward them until the day came when we were ready to build our own home. …

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