Today I tidied off the top of the wood heater. All summer it acts as a black metal shelving unit in our kitchen. Books, knickknacks, bits of paper, coins, dust all accumulate. Then it starts getting cold and I start looking at it and thinking about cleaning it up. It’s a big job. First there’s all that stuff. Then sweeping the dust and removing cobwebs followed by wiping down with a damp cloth. Well-read newspaper must be located, the kindling pile raided, wood heap replenished, matches found, the fire laid. Clearly mine is not a Zen household of order and calm.
Finally the first flames flicker behind the glass. I watch anxiously to see if the chimney is drawing. This year you can stand on the new back landing and look straight up at it outside. Last time the fire was lit, I had to go down a flight of stairs, through the laundry, out the back door and crane my neck to see the roof.
The measure of success of the preparation is how strong the smell of dust burning is when the fire is finally lit. That and the wonderful warmth thrown into the kitchen. Tonight we’ll test how it copes with heating the new part of the house or if we simply have to accept that as a cold zone.
Today was a good day: warmth and very little odour. We might not have order and calm, but we will be warm as temperatures dip low and winds rise.