Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wood Burning

The pianist developed, over the years,expertise from her wood burning, fast fire, outdoor kiln. Her choice of wood was cedar and fir, split fine, which we have in abundance on Lotus Island. She managed over 600 firings of high-fired, ash glazed, ceramics in the years when we were young and sturdy. We, however, were never attentive to the wood burning alternative in our house until this year. The reasons were laziness and a lack of parsimony! Since the onset this year of the cooler weather of fall, and a greater desire to hoard one's diminishing wealth, the fireplace and the Vermont airtight have become fully employed. No more baseboard heating for the present in the house. We are novices in this heating matter, but are keen to learn and experiment with woods of a various kind. Our base wood for jump starting and push is Alder. This is primarily used in the airtight. Ceiling fans and room to room fans, distribute the warm air after a fashion. Laziness must be set aside in the early morning, to take the ashes to the compost daily and reset the airtight for a new fire later each evening. The fireplace, on the other hand, is large and the Alder is the starter, but Cedar and Fir split logs that follow are abundant in the ancient woodpile. The fireplace is set at night for the early morning wood fire when the pianist and I gather for our coffee and a vegetative period with one another. Care needs to be taken with this older wood to avoid the Brown Recuse and the Widow. They are unwelcome in the house! We also have, in the old woodpile, hard wood from the orchard trees that we had felled or trimmed in the past . Both Italian Plum and Apple logs are available. They provide an even and spark free heat. I have a number of year old, Evergreen Magnolia branches and logs that are also a hard wood and burn slowly and well. Much of the very old wood is what the woodcutter described to me as "punk".He looked at it with disdain and observed it had no BTUs. The etymology of this description of "punk" escapes me. It is certainly light weight and becoming sawdust so maybe that is it. It certainly ignites and burns fast but doesn't last! Maybe that's it! Maybe punks have no BTU's. This exciting phase of our life is beginning to take fire, learning to make smoke!

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