If you’ve ever watched Game of Thrones or read the series of books, then you’re familiar with the Stark family motto. It’s all about getting ready for the long, dark cold to come: a time filled with fear and fraught with danger, when resources run low and living gets mean. Even the monsters may come to get you…
While it won’t last for generations, and neither the White Walkers or Jon Snow (unfortunately) are likely to show up anytime soon, around here winter is still a season to prepare for. Stockpiling firewood, preparing the animals, and winterizing the house, outbuildings, equipment, and vehicles are all jobs best done before the first snow falls.
Part 1: Putting up firewood
Getting winter’s wood supply ready is a labor of love. It’s a choice really, to use more of your own time and energy, to make a green(er) effort toward heating your home. Wood is efficient and renewable, and requires no electricity or fossil fuel. And while my house is equipped with a propane-fueled furnace as back-up, I burn wood as much as possible when I’m home.
Burning wood as a green alternative to fossil fuels has other rewards. The work involved in cutting, splitting, and storing it is good exercise: you can eat a lot more when you know you’ll be working off the calories soon. You can have a clearer conscience, and a source of heat when a winter storm knocks out the power. And it’s a lot more cozy sitting by a woodstove in your living room than hanging out by the basement furnace, whiling away the winter hours with a book, a glass of wine, a pet, your significant other, or all of the above.
A Lopi woodstove and a couple of well-placed fans go a long way toward moving heat around the house. I also gave up my much-loved wooden windows for replacements as a step toward better efficiency. All it still takes to heat the upstairs, however, is opening a bedroom door. Like many old farmhouses, this one has many lathe and plaster walls and an under-insulated attic that no new vinyl window can remedy.
While that may not seem like the most energy-efficient strategy, snow melts easily and ice dams are less likely to form on the roof and cause leaks. The house also breathes better, preventing stale air, indoor pollutants and allergens from building up. It makes you wonder if the old-timers didn’t understand more about constructing houses than we do now. Regardless, I’m happy to join them in a long-standing tradition of heating with wood.
I've never really liked labels: I am this, I am that... But in the interest of introducing myself to the world, I can say that I am many things: nurse, writer, photographer, poet, painter, gardener, friend, armchair philosopher, counselor, nature lover, real-estate aficionado, movie buff, sometime yogi, and aspiring world-traveler. I think that's a pretty good list... for now. I want to become a bigger part of the vital, creative force I feel deeply at work in the world and connect with other people who want to do the same.