Monday, December 22, 2008

Scuttles of Coal

The fireplace felt good this morning as we drank our coffee. It went down to 19 degrees in the night with stiff breeze out of the north which drove the wind chill down to single digits.
I know this sounds strange, but since I've been doing yoga, the cold doesn't bother me as much. If I can keep my hands and feet warm, I'm fine.
When I was a kid we had coal burning fireplaces in the camp house in Sloss. One of my chores was making sure we had plenty of coal on the concrete hearth. I wore blisters on my hands carrying those scuttles of coal. And later the blisters turned into my first calluses.
We would bank the fireplace at night (smother it down for the night) so that it would burn slowly giving off a little warmth and stay lit all night. In the morning we would take the soot-black poker and stoke the embers. Once it caught its second wind, we'd add some large lumps of anthracite coal that was as black as tar. Before you could say "well parch my bluejeans," it was toasty in that drafty old house.
The old Warm Morning coal stove in the kitchen, heated the front part of the house. On cold mornings, my mom would fire that puppy up and the stove pipe would get so hot it glowed the color of an orange. My mom didn't use that old heater for cooking, but she always kept a kettle of water on there for coffee or tea in case a neighbor dropped by mid-morning.
Our fireplace today is more efficient and much easier to keep burning. And, I don't miss that faint smell of sulfur that comes with burning bituminous fossil fuels, but on cold mornings, that old fireplace felt pretty dang good.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:53 AM

    your letter to santa on the first page of the dora high website made me cry this morning. but i still enjoy your stories.pef


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