THE ART OF COAL

I feel I am starting to get the hang of using coal.  And it is a good thing, too; very timely. 

Yesterday (Sunday), about mid-morning, we received a phone call from Sam Weaver.  Word had been going all around about an approaching snow storm. Sam was concerned that our car was parked just a little too close to the main road, and should the snowfall be heavy enough, a snow plow could accidentally clip the front of our car.  He offered to bring his tractor around, with the attached snow blower, to clear a bit more space for us, so we could park a little farther off (and further protect our Gypsy Rose). 

So a good part of Sunday morning was spent walking up the path to where the car was parked, driving it off to the side (to give Sam the necessary space to work with), ultimately to park it in a somewhat safer space.  In between, we also drove over to Sam’s place for a little bit.  He had an extra pair of snow shoes that he offered to lend us, and we ended up just visiting and chatting for a bit (while Rufus played with Sam’s dog, Ranger; the two of them chasing each other like lunatics through massive snow drifts).

By the time we re-parked the car and made our way back to the cabin, the snow was coming down in a profusion of fat, fluffy flakes.  We felt as if we were walking through one of those dime store snow globes.  Altogether, we probably got about another foot or so of new snow (which meant more shoveling today for me).  The temperature has been colder, and it is predicted to dip about 3 or 4 degrees below zero tonight, which is why I am glad to start understanding the use of coal in the pot belly stove in the main hallway. 

We have more coal than wood, and the more we can use the coal, the better.  There is a bit of an art to it, though.  It’s getting to know how much coal to add (too little and the fire dies out; too much and you choke the fire and, again, it dies out). And timing is very much a vital part of the equation.  But for most of today, I have succeeded in maintaining a steady bed of glowing coals, which in turn keeps the fan on the pot belly’s chimney blowing a constant stream of warm air. 

More than once, over the last couple of weeks or so, I have been reminded of an old movie (a Disney movie, perhaps?) that I watched as a kid, called “My Side of the Mountain”.  The story was presumably about a kid (early adolescent) who, inspired by Henry David Thoreau, set out to live on the side of a mountain for a year or so.  It was, admittedly, a very Hollywood sort of romanticized thing.  Years later, I got ‘round to reading Thoreau’s Walden.  I can say that we are living in much better circumstances than either Mr. Thoreau or the kid in the aforementioned movie.  For one thing, we do have the ongoing presence and aid of the magic Electricity Genie to help us in a variety of ways (internet, DVD entertainment, lights, kindles, and more).  So while we are living within a certain amount of simplicity, it would probably strike Mr. Thoreau as being incredibly luxurious. 

Today has been a good day.  The day began with shoveling snow (and giving Rufus a chance to take care of business), followed by rebuilding the fire in the pot belly, then some work on the internet attending to gigs, followed by guitar practice; rinse and repeat, as it were.  We have found a rhythm to our lives here, and the next few weeks should be very productive as a consequence. 

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