This is our second winter in the canyon, and it has been wet and cold. The temperature quickly drops close to freezing most evenings and mornings. We rely heavily on our little wood stove in our main space to keep our home warm. Last winter was a big transition for us as we left city life to live in the canyon. We shifted from a smart heating system from which we could conveniently adjust the temperature of the house via our phone to a very hands-on method that requires us to stock up the wood pile ahead, cut them to the right size, and physically build a fire every time we need to warm up the house. It is as manual as it gets, and it takes about an hour or two until the stove starts to warm up the home to a comfortable temperature if we are starting the fire from scratch. In many ways, it feels like we have gone backward. But I feel the opposite of backward as we go through our second year. Based on many tries and errors, Frido and I have figured out how to keep the fire going slow and steady throughout the day so we can conserve the precious wood pile, which we need to haul 50 steps from the road to our main living level. It’s a workout. We are even managing to carry over the leftover coal from the evening before into the following day, so we don’t have to start the new fire every morning when it’s the coldest.
Throughout the day, if we are home, one of us is constantly checking on the fire, removing built-up ash for better airflow, adding another log when everything inside turns to red coal, and closing the vent when we want the fire to slow down. The sound of logs inhaling oxygen and exhaling the fire is a tangible and tactile experience if you sit near the stove, as I sometimes do when I practice yoga by the stove (it might sound romantic to practice yoga by the fire, but it’s a bit of a necessity for me since other parts of the house can be just as freezing as the outside!). But, it is more than an experience. It is an ongoing and gentle relationship, and I sometimes feel that our fire is one of our family members with her voice and feelings.
Naturally, everyone, including our first-time guests, gravitates toward the fire. If our home could be a metaphor for a physical body, our wood stove is truly the heart of our house during the winter season.
A.C.’s story reminds us of the power of journaling daily in an open-ended “stream of unconsciousness” format. Journaling every day, even though it could be ‘whatever” the content is, is a habit-building process, and there is something incredibly soothing about their systematic visual way of keeping the past written consciousness in order. In the world of chaos, it feels grounding.
Trina's Notebook People interview with Karen Walrond might spark your kindling if you are hoping to build a more playful relationship with your analogue moments. Reading how she walked her analogue path to explore more personal art and expression on her pages over time teaches me that it is not about having perfect spreads worthy of sharing with others. Instead, it is about tending to the desire to express with an open heart.
After living with our wood-burning stove for a while, I finally understand how it feels to tend to fire literally and metaphorically. If we want to keep the flame of something going, whether it is our dream, passion, or love for everyday life, we need to attend to it, gently shuffling the pieces, adding fuel, and adjusting the energy flow as required. We want to stay near it, witnessing the inhaling and exhaling of the fire with our loving hearts. We build an authentic relationship with the flame so it can stay alive. It is a slow and steady companionship, not an overnight makeover. So whatever your fire might represent in your life today, I hope you give yourself a chance to tend to fire gently and steadily.
always a work in progress...
Topanpga // February 1st, 2023
**This is from our BK Love Letter for February 2023. If you would like to see the entire love letter we sent to our community, you can browse it via this link.