Old Man Winter
Today I’ve reached the first winter milestone—my October/November supply of wood is now gone. When we stacked the wood back in August, I’d set aside somewhere between a third and a half of a face cord to use for October and November supplemental heating. Around here that means starting a fire in the wood stove when I can’t stand listening to my teeth chatter any longer. Over the course of two months, my teeth chattering set-point has steadily dropped. And the furnace has not gone on once this season.
I’m sort of surprised that the supplemental wood stack lasted as long as it did—we’ve been much colder this autumn than normal. So, finishing off the last piece of my October/November wood on the 29th of November is close enough. That was lucky planning, though I thought I’d have a little left over going into December. It’s not as if I’ve kept the house toasty, by any means. Although, I did go through a scary amount last weekend with the lad home. He is not accustomed to a cool house nor accustomed to layering up. Their dorms are hot. And, for one day, I let the heat go upstairs so his room would be warm. For one day, I roasted half to death while he was comfortable. We’ll have to adjust that situation over the Winter Break.
Now I begin burning the big woodpile. It keeps looking smaller as the temperatures drop. I don’t think I’ll be going overboard on heat this year. Old Man Winter apparently intends to set in early. According to the extended Accuweather forecasts, the temperatures are due to dip into the low teens and single digits at night through the middle of December and scarcely climb above freezing during the day. That’s late January weather for us. December is usually quite mild along the coast with temps staying in the upper-30s to low-40s, with nights in the mid to upper 20s. If we’re going to start with January temperatures now, let’s hope we have an extended thaw when January does arrive.
I’m very glad that I decided to hang the quilt across the open staircase this year. It has made a tremendous difference in how much wood I’ve needed to burn to keep the downstairs at a reasonable temperature. Had it not been for that, there is no question that I’d have been dipping into my large woodpile well before today. I’ve been able to get away with burning a small hot fire in the evenings rather than keeping one going the better part of the day and banked at night. Several days required no fire at all.
Today, however, I finally caved and started a fire around 11:30 this morning. The house was a rather brisk 53° with the temps about to start falling outside. For some unaccountable reason, my teeth weren’t even chattering, but I figured it would be a good idea to start warming the house up now. Obviously, the colder it gets inside, with the outdoor temps dropping like a stone, the more wood it takes to bring the house back up to reasonable temps—at least 65°.
I still aim to have some wood left over by the end of the winter. The more I have, the better it will be going into the next season. I have a sinking feeling that firewood in this neck of the woods is going to be very expensive next year. Maybe this is the year I’d better get some green wood early to season over the summer and autumn.