Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mama Bear

Mama Bear is almost thirty years old.
We could have chosen Papa Bear or Baby Bear but Mama Bear was just right.
1979, new homeowners were we, and the first thing we did was install a wood stove, this Fisher Mama Bear, big enough to fit a 20" log and hold a fire through the night. 300 and some pounds of 5/16 plate steel lined with fire brick, a massive thing to radiate for hours. No reason it won't last for generations.
It was the hey-day of wood stoves, driven by a rise in heating costs (little did we know), and folks were looking for some cheap heat. Vermont Castings and Jotul were the high end. We bought ours from a neighbor 1/2 mile away who had turned his garage into a Fisher franchise.
Of course you had to get some wood for this thing but back then it was almost fun and you could get your friends to go out in the woods and bust it hauling chunks of wood out of the woods just for the companionship and a few beers.
I had a 1955 Chevy pickup painted primer grey with an '87 V-8 engine 4 on the floor that we got for $600. I upholstered the seat with denim and made a walnut sun visor. We were Ma and Pa Kettle 'cept the sucker could haul ass.
My chainsaw was a lime green Poulan that would start nice the first time but never again. So I'd fire it up and work like a banshee trying to cut enough for a truck load before it ran out of gas. If it quit I'd hafta yank and yank and yank and maybe I'd be lucky and maybe I wouldn't. Somebody probably could have fixed it but not this kid from the suburbs.
So now I have a Stihl that starts nice and a different truck from Japan and a wood lot that is not far away and each spring I do this ritual, albeit solo, of bringing in the winter's warmth.
New Fisher stoves are no longer available. They didn't pass the EPA emission standards set for newer stoves and the romance of wood heat faded a bit. It turns out to be a lot of cuttin', haulin', stackin' and ashes and cleaning the flu so folks switched to coal or pellets or back to oil or gas. But they say the stove business is picking up again recently .....

A poem by my friend Jack Troy.

Acorn Dreaming
(for Don and Sarah Braxton)

Last week the crew showed up early,
took stock of three dead pin oaks
up the hill from me, jerked starter-cords,
and had them topped, limbed, and felled by ten,
the first thwacking frozen lawn
like a tossed caber, the biggest ka-rumping
sod like a mortar round. By noon
they lay splayed on the slope,
buzz-sawed into puzzles of themselves.
On his way to the next job,
one of the guys poses with his saw
on a stump's concentric circles,
-Wanna tree-kit, mister?-

I'd offered to barter young white pines
for a half a pickup of thighsized billets.
Around midnight I fed six to the furnace.
Stuffing the last two in before the door
clamped tight I caught an aromatic whiff,
bark roasting on evening's embers,
then slept in the comfort of the undoing.

Releasing ring by annular ring
the heat of seventy summers.
fire unscrolled from bark and canbium.
the repertoire of seasons.
one decade an hour, freeze by thaw
and drought by freshet til by dawn
remembrance radiates
from heartwood's inmost core:
the limber sprout yearning itself vertical.
leafing and heeding light and season.
shedding over seventy years
a cubic acre of veined paper.

Waking. I've dreamed the acorn's dreaming

1 comment:

MicaelaA said...

Thank you for the poem, it is lovely.

I have a Papa Bear Fisher, still a perfect way to equalize the heat upstairs and down in my 1918 bungalow.

Long may it burn!