First Fire of the Season

Exciting news, folks: Today is the day I get to publicly announce the literary prize that I won. I have updated my website—the resume, all the downloadable clips, the links, the current projects…and the main page, which announces the details of the award. If you’re curious, please take a moment to check out the changes I have made and join me in the celebration. This prize is a first for me and I am very humbled. Follow this link to my website for more info. Hooray!
I built my first fire of the season in the woodstove this afternoon. The house was holding steady at 54 degrees and had been for about 24 hours. With snow forecasted for this weekend and dense fog rolling in, I knew there was no chance of much passive solar gain so late in the day.
This year, my woodpile is smaller than any of the past seven winters I’ve prepared for in these mountains. A humble cord of red oak partly fills the woodshed. Since I know I’ll be leaving in January, that’s all I’ve split.
[‘Tis the season for splitting, stacking, and hauling…]
The kerosene tank has been empty for six months and is going to stay that way. Likewise, the propane is down to 8% of 500 gallons. That’s enough to fuel my oven until January. I’m hoping it will also be enough for some extended hours in the meditation hut as well.
So, wood it is and wood it will be for this mountain mama for my remaining months here. I’ve always been taught that the best way to feed a fire is the same way we feed ourselves. It starts with something simple like a piece of fruit that is quickly digested and put to use. This is the newspaper we first light when building a fire. Not too much, though, as we all know how quickly sugars are burned through and then feel sort of suffocating afterwards. Next, we might go for some whole grain toast. This is the kindling for the fire, dry sticks about the width of your thumb or less. Next, we might go for a hard-boiled egg (6g of protein per egg!) or a glass of soy milk (10g per glass!). These are the forearm sized small logs that go on after the kindling. For a longer fire, we’d conclude with a fat locust or oak log atop the burning fire just so. I suppose this would be like adding more protein to the meal, something that keeps you going like a Boca burger or handful of almonds.
The end result? Like a well-balanced meal, if you wait a while the fire will do its slow and steady work, warming from the inside out. And like any meal, there’s always a little pang for something more once it’s over. Maybe that’s why it seems so absolutely fitting to want to drink a dessert of hot cocoa while gazing into a fireplace that’s simmered down to a hot bed of coals.
  • Kari Weaver Hopkins

    Congratulations on your award. That must be very exciting for you. Looking forward to reading your story.

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