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No.16: A Woodfire Story.
Hints of Balsam and Pine: Nature Reflections in a minor key from our quiet corner of the Adirondacks. For Fourpeaks Guests and anyone who ever dreamed about a wilderness getaway. CLICK & GO! (On this page.) Adirondack Letter No.16: "A Woodfire Story." (On the next page.) List and Links to all the Adirondack Letters in this series.
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"A Woodfire Story" Adirondack Letter No.16
Subject: A Woodfire Story
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 2004 19:22:09
From: Martin (Your Adirondack Guide)
To: Fourpeaks Visitors
At: < email@example.com >
Dear Fourpeaks Visitor,
I stir the fire for heat and a shower of sparks fly, the harmless
display a friendly portent of what's to come. A puff of smoke at
first, then flames begin to lick around the solid wood. (These
visible forms of energy are satisfying evidence of the immense web
of cause and effect on which the universe is based, hinting also
at the vital exchange of matter taking place in the minute cells
of living things, at throbbing life itself.) Later a pleasant glow
radiates out from the hidden bed of hot coals at the heart of it,
and after a while the farthest corner of the little room is warm.
Outside nearby tall pine reach up into the empty winter sky
already darkening by mid-afternoon. They hardly move in the light
wind, while below fallen leaves blow around in circles through the
empty space between the black tree trunks. The scene on both sides
is a study in contrast.
With the change in season I've moved my bed into the small room
that I carved out of the shed at Camp Barn for an office. The big
black filing cabinets and woodgrain work tables with chrome legs
and plastic trim from my 70's office in the city seem out of place
with the gas lights and rough wood of the camp setting. But the
new bed, an economy foldout sofa covered over by a cheap India
print with elephants and stars, fits right in by the raw tin
fireplace unit Eric salvaged and got me for just $200.
My old room--the Hideout I named it when I moved into it from the
Stone House just three years ago--is heated with an antique oak
stove I collected. A tall cylinder, with nickle trim all around,
shiny footrest at the base, elaborate double firebox doors, and a
graceful bent iron decoration on top, it was designed for coal.
Camp firewood (16 to 18 inches) wouldn't fit. Like the tiny Morse
stove at Gypsy, special short blocks (only 9 inches or so) have to
be cut for it. The extra effort involved in sawing, splitting,
hauling and piling the small firewood made heating difficult. But
then a modern Vermont replacement I moved in was so entirely out
of place, the old stove won out. Still there today I crank it up
for dinner guests and special occasions.
Almost from the beginning the dark woods behind Camp Barn were a
focus for thoughts about the ancestors for that place and
especially Jim Melvin's grandad who died while he was away at war.
You can still see the rough fence line that runs close by it from
the back field all the way to Three Birches and beyond. Roadward
was pasture and haying fields in a broad sag. Behind, the woodlot
and the steep trail that climbs through it to the notch between
the mountains and over by The Lookout with views into their little
valley. In among the hardack at Wolf not long ago we found the
remains of an old jumper sled they used to haul down the logs and
saved it for a souvenir.
The Ice Storm of '98 brought down scores of mature oak in the thin
wet soil at the base of Bassett by the old fire road. We named it
ZigZag when our logger had trouble finding a way out for his
skidder in the swampy part at the end of it, choosing instead a
new path on drier ground. Next year Willy and I cut blocks along
it and brought them out with the '50 jeep truck. It was tough
going and a long haul back to the woodyard by Camp Rock so we gave
it up after a while. Just last year we remembered all those oaks,
down but still good from the storm. We made a fifty-fifty deal
and Willy skidded more than forty stumps with his loader, coming
out through Three Birches and around.
This fall we finished the load of mostly maple bought the year
before and started on the oak. Fred did most of the cutting and
Billy split. Twelve cords or so before we were done--for The
Cabin, New Camp, Wolf and five cords of that right by the trash
shed, handy for my new winter quarters. The pile is satisfying to
look at and handsome, covered by strips of old tarp to keep the
snow off. When it's time to get a load I enjoy sorting through and
picking out some of the good oak to mix in with the other.
Maybe next year we'll look around and find some more to bring out.
Years ago I remember Frank Dubay prospecting for fallen elm on my<
place over by Sugar. And he was pleased to find it, too. That was
Willy's grandad and he's the same way, urging me, when he sees
one, to let him fall a dead maple on Stonehouse Road for the wood.
No sense letting it go to waste. It's good and dry and saves
cutting live trees that still have time to grow.
Thanks for reading this. I hope you'll turn down the central
heating at your place some time. Come up and experience natural
heating with the oldest fuel known to man. If you've ever been a
guest here, CLICK http://4peaks.com/fgift.htm for an attractive
offer to visit again. Or CLICK http://4peaks.com/femail0.htm if
you've never been, for our up-to-date Availability Calendar. Make
some time. There's a lovely quiet season coming up.
Till then please visit On-Line:
http://4peaks.com/ "Explore our 700-acre rest and play-ground."
http://4peaks.com/fcamp.htm Backcountry Camps in a Hidden Valley.
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http://4peaks.com/fotrails.htm Walks with views & Beauty spots.
http://4peaks.com/fgstbndx.htm "Meet our guests!"
Your Adirondack Host,
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friend! If you didn't like it, please send it back with "REMOVE"
as the subject. Thanks.
Member Whiteface Mountain Visitors Bureau
Member Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau
This is No.16 of a really occasional Letter, "Hints of
Balsam and Pine from our Corner of the Adirondacks," for
Fourpeaks guests or anyone who ever inquired about a
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