Every time Raymond and I arrive at the Manse on a cold winter night and are waiting for the oil-fired furnace to heat the place up, I miss our family’s old wood stove. Of course, it takes time to heat things up with a wood stove too; you have to get the firebox loaded up with newspaper and kindling, get the fire started, and tend it a bit to make sure it will really catch. But in the meantime you get a good feeling of being in control of your own heat source as you putz around with fire – and who doesn’t like putzing around with fire? And you’re keeping yourself busy even as you feel that first bit of cheery warmth emanating from your new little flames.
That old Findlay we used to have was truly the heart of our household in the days when I was growing up at the Manse in the 1960s and ’70s. It was just inside the front door, so that you’d be hit by its warmth the instant you came into the house. What a welcoming feeling!
And it always cast warmth – at least, as long as Dad was around. A firm believer in heating your home with fuel that didn’t cost anything – and since he did the woodlot work that produced our firewood, that wood fell into the “free” category in his mind – he tended that stove all day and as needed at night. (I well remember him talking about going downstairs for the “three o’clock feeding” – and it wasn’t any of us as infants he was talking about. He meant feeding the stove.)
Thanks to a very useful set of stovepipes running through much of the house – which of course would never be allowed under the modern Building Code or Fire Code – the Manse was always wood-burningly toasty.
So ingrained in my mind is the position of that old Findlay that it still catches me by surprise sometimes to look over at that part of the kitchen and not see it. And when I’m chilled, it’s still instinct to want to head over to that corner for a dose of warmth. It happened as recently as this past weekend, more than a year after Raymond and I have been back at the wood-stove-free Manse. (The stove and stovepipes were probably removed by the Manse Committee of St. Andrew’s United Church several ministers and some decades ago.)
While Raymond and I have every intention of getting a wood-burning stove at the Manse – though whether it will be the old-fashioned kind or a modern, sleek, European-style update is still a matter of discussion – it will, sadly, be impossible to put it where, in my mind, the stove belongs. My understanding of this vexing situation is that it is because it is against an interior wall without a proper chimney, and fire regulations would never allow it. Bother.
If anyone has any ideas about how to get around that problem, though, I sure would love to hear from you!
Because, as you’ve probably figured out by now, I like things to be where they belong.