It’s officially wood stove season. There’s a chill in the air and the leaves are showing their colors. I can no longer get away with a mindlessly grabbed jacket on my way out the door.
The carriage has been put away for the season. Firewood has been stacked both outside and in. Kindling and tinder have been gathered and the storm window is in the old barn door.
It’s the time of year when the predators are in full swing. We thought we lost our chattiest little chicken the other day, a precocious little bantam named Beatrice. We took her in when her owner got sick and it was immediately clear she was more pet than poultry. She’d ride around on Alan’s arm like a falcon, only jauntily dismounting when he lowered her close enough to the ground.
I heard the commotion in the goldenrod that flanks my studio. By the time I ran outside, I saw the hawk take off with something Beatrice-shaped in its talons. I yelled after it and clapped my hands, but there was nothing I could do. It wasn’t until hours later that Alan found her safe and sound digging about in the compost. I don’t know who it was that became dinner that day, but a bird with a name is worth all the birds in the bush.
We finished installing my studio wood stove last week. It was one of the more difficult projects we’ve taken on, what with a chimney that wanted to go through the peak but truss braces that wouldn’t allow it. We had to angle the pipe to get far enough to the side, but had barely enough room to straighten her back out. The result is a chimney that leans like the Tower of Pisa, but a stove that warms the space gloriously.
Like most creative projects, now that it’s done we’ve forgotten the hard parts. The part where I chickened out of going on the roof, the part where I had to balance across trusses to connect the pipes, the part where I had to carry a three foot steel pipe up a flexing ladder.
Well, mostly forgotten.
My commission work is wrapped up for a short while, save for one last set of awards. My focus has turned – first to work for a November show, then to the final bits of winter preparation. My energy wanes like the fall daylight and I feel myself slipping toward the hibernation my soul always seems to crave this time of year. Soon the winter quiet will be upon us.
But until then, there’s work to be done.
Work that prepares us for the cold days. Work that gets sold to cushion the slow times ahead. It isn’t just firewood in the coffers. I make mental notes of all the small tasks to be done, things to bring in, button up, batten down. The list is long and the days short.
But I can see the light ahead. Soon there’ll be more time to read, to rest, to write. To take in the heat of the stove as my mind wanders to new things. To envision the future and imagine possibility.