Monday, October 18, 2010

12 Fire in the stove

Wednesday September 22, 2010: - Isle of Erraid

All week I’ve been thinking about learning to light the wood burning stove. Just before lunch, I take the opportunity to ask a member of the community to show me how to light the wood stove in our sitting room.

The fire went out in the stove sometime in the middle of the night. The half burned wood and the layer of ash are soft and slightly warm to touch.

Pushing aside my fear of the fire, I ease the half burned log to one side of the stove and stack rolled and folded newsprint on the other. I wrap some lumps of wax in more newsprint and balance the kindling sticks across the top. It’s not so different lighting a fire in a stove than it is to light one on the ground, I muse. With the last match from the box, I light the paper and the fire catches.

It spits and hisses, hums and snaps and soon is burning merrily. I prod it with a poker to enliven it, and when it is burning merrily, lay another big log across it. It continues to make contented healthy fire noises, so I deem it safe to leave and go off to have lunch.

After lunch, I return to the fire, which is still singing. I prod it some more with the poker, which it appears to like. I make it roar as I feed it more wood. It blasts out heat and I hear its voice singing in the flu. I slip open the vent, and tongues of flame dart out teasingly. I snap shut the vent, and With some considerable satisfaction settle back contentedly to read, drink tea and knit and eat chocolate for the rest of the afternoon.

I’ve lit my first stove fire and it’s not gone out! I’ve not burned my hands or burnt the house down in the doing of it either. I’m feeling rather pleased with myself.

I’ve always been cautious about fire, coming late to an ease with it. Fire can so easily run away with itself. Within minutes it can destroy. I am also learning, as I tend the stove this afternoon that, more often it needs coaxing and persuading to burn.

I think about the capriciousness of fire as the afternoon moves on. Now I’ve conquered stove fires, what else is left that is hard about fire? A fire walk? Hmmm. Well that’s for another time, I think popping a piece of chocolate into my mouth.

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