Thursday, December 11, 2003



Finally a dust of white upon the mountains beneath their caps of cloud; very late in the year. Mt. Ibuki across the blue mirror of the Lake has been wearing formal white for some time now. As a direct result of all this frosting going on apace all around us, yesterday we started the first fire in our woodstove this year. This is the furthest into the year we've ever gotten without needing a fire in the stove; usually we make it only to latter November, so the weather has let us save almost a month's supply of firewood!! Thank you, large entity!

And let me say right off and unqualifiedly that whiskey barrel staves make excellent firewood, need minimal kindling, burn hot, long and even, stack great, coal excellently, resulting in minimal ash, minimal smoke, minimal creosote and maximum general pleasedness, though a lot of sawing to size, which enables the sawyer to regularly burn off chocolate fuel.

When the ice crystals form on the ground outside and breath turns directly into clouds as crystally fingers creep up the windows and the entire landscape is frozen for the following year, there's nothing quite like the heat from a good woodstove-- ours is a DutchWest large Federal (Vermont Castings) catalytic-- it gives off heat like like the heat you get to your bones when you slip into one of Japan's finest sento (hot-spring bath). Before going to bed on a wintry night, there's nothing quite like stretching out in front of the radiant woodstove and deliciously turning your body into a life-sized bedwarmer. Eat your heart out, central heating.

And wood is replenishable. Lots of expert wood-burning info at

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