Practicality has finally won out. We bought a wood stove today. Our fireplace is in the half of the house built in the 1740s, and it is quite large, with a beehive oven to the side of it, and an iron bar that swings out, for hanging cookpots. For seven winters I have enjoyed roaring fires, sitting on the wide raised hearth to warm up, or curled up in a chair next to it, reading with a cat in my lap. In the winter we watch even less television because it is upstairs, and the lure of the crackling fire keeps all of us happily downstairs, engaged in quieter activities.
However, we can’t heat the house with it, and the first oil delivery of the season came in September. It was very expensive and not even a full tank. For some time we have wanted to be less dependent on oil to heat our home, and cost is certainly a factor. Woodstoves have improved greatly in efficiency and burn more cleanly; plus, we have an abundant supply of our own fuel. All of which is why Cherisse has been arguing for a stove for some time.
We decided on a beautiful soapstone stove…simple and elegant without being fussy. Soapstone radiates heat more evenly over time than cast iron. Like most new stoves it has a glass door, so we can still see the logs burning. It won’t be the same, but I think the warmth it produces will make up for the loss of the open fire. For a couple weeks longer, though, until it is delivered and installed, I can enjoy fires the way some family did more than 250 years ago.