THE DICKSTER has always loved a wood fire! As a kid it was a special treat to have a family outdoor cookout in a makeshift outdoor fireplace.
We can't remember any other fare but hot dogs cooked on a sharp stick and eaten on a folded piece of bread or on a hotdog roll, often finished up with a well-burned marshmallow. But there was also a fascination for hot dogs that has kept its nose still sticking up under the blanket of an older mind that has been quite selective in what it keeps and what it deletes!
From those days to our town's snowmobile society that took over our lives for several years, we thought the best night out was to have snowmobile friends join us on the top of Stratham Hill (a nearby state park) for a hot dog cookout. There was no fireplace - just a layer of firewood spread on the snow and a fire set on top of it, few green limbs cut for hot dog sticks- and then have a great little picnic. A little bit of ginger brandy was always on hand to subsidize the heat from the fire.
For as long as we can remember in our adult life, each home we've had (three of them) has had a wood burning stove or fireplace or both, and we've been very happy keeping a never-ending supply of firewood cut, split and stacked somewhere, either in a woodshed or under cover outside.
In our current home on the south side of Great Bay, our wood burning stove isn't just for ambiance. Never live in a home on the south side of a big water body unless you want to stay active and healthy lugging firewood to protect yourself from those frigid north or northwest winds! Sometimes the wind blows so hard here that you cannot stand on the shoreline for more than a minute or two without suffering from windburn or just the cold!
And when that cold wind is really blowing, a big and strong gust can actually shake the house, which is pretty substantially anchored to the ground.
Both Jane and I stay young working both in and out of our woodshed. But on those cold and windy days or nights, a chair or chairs set before our woodstove in our living room provide some of the nicest environments that an old couple could want.
By old, we only mean the numbers. We remain very active. A couple of weeks ago my grandson Nate Griffin delivered a load of two-year cut but mostly not split hardwood in chunks that weighed up to 50 or 60 pounds.
We have the neatest little wood splitter that you can imagine. It's produced by Mantis, the company that produces the tiny little garden rototiller. It's electric/hydraulic and if you can get a piece of wood under the blade it will split it, regardless of the size and toughness of it! This wood was particularly "gnarly," as our forefathers would explain it. But we ended up with only one bolt of wood that we eventually couldn't get down to stove-fit.
Since the wood had lain out in the open for a year or so, it was pretty wet so we decided to stack it outside and not in our woodshed, which already had close to four cords of cut and split firewood inside. So we've probably got enough firewood to last us about a year and a half, but it's like social security to have plenty!
Think of Dick and Jane when Old Man Winter starts to whistle at your doors and windows. We'll be plenty warm watching those flames flickering and on the odd nights probably have some kind of firewater taking care of us internally. And stay in touch.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.