Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunset, Morning Deer, A New Fire

I was not easy in my mind at keeping a fire in the fireplace after the glass door shattered.
We kept the fire well back, pulled the mesh inner guards, J. swathed the broken door in aluminum foil--but it was a temporary measure.
He had been eyeing fireplace inserts on craigslist and after taking all sorts of measurements he called regarding one for sale in Berea, KY.
It sounded possible.
The route is one we have been over twice already during the week.
As it was a lovely bright day I decided there was no need to break my record of traipsing about merely to stay home and clean house!
The stove proved to be usable and after a great deal of determined hoiking by J. and the seller, it was lashed onto the back of Snort'n Nort'n.
Our favorite restaurant chain, Cracker Barrel, has one of their distinctive eating places in the area, so we stopped for a meal before heading home.
We were given a table at one of the large front windows and sat enjoying tea and food with gentle late afternoon sun spilling in.

We were about 45 minutes from home when the sun disappeared in a fiery sky.
We were headed southwest and it seemed that we were enveloped in the colorful clouds; trees, buildings, bridges stood in black outline.
My photos were taken through Nort'ns' pocked and streaked windshield as we roared down the parkway at 60 mph.
The last of the afterglow had faded as we turned into our driveway, the moon rising behind us. 

A bit before midnight last night, half-asleep, I heard a wild and lonesome howling from somewhere outside.
"Coyotes," I thought, and burrowed deeper into the quilts.
The cry came again, sending prickles down the back of my neck. The cats nestled beside me tensed into alertness, making disturbed whiffling sounds.
Several of them followed me down the hallway and circled my feet as I drew back the heavy curtain and peered toward the woods. The yard light flung a yellow haze over frosted grass.  Nothing moved within my line of vision. I considered slipping on boots, pulling on a jacket to step outside.
Even a few moments outside would send me shivering back to my bed so I resisted the impulse for a midnight reconnoiter.
In the darkened back bedroom I opened the shutters, trying to locate Pebbles.  Here moonlight was dominant, away from the artificial glow of the yard light.
Frost sparkled on the cold grass. The branches of the ancient apple tree were charcoal-smudges against  the sky.  Neighbor's lights were reassuring beacons along the hidden bends of the road. No sign of Pebbles, likely munching hay in her barn annex, or standing guard in the back pasture.
I listened, but the wild yapping did not come again.  The coyotes had evidently continued on their
nocturnal way.
This morning, as I stood looking through the sliding glass doors at sunshine on frost crystals, a group of white-tail deer rounded the tobacco barn, frolicking and bouncing like young colts.
I snatched up my camera and eased out the side door as soundlessly as I could.

The deer always hear me--or hear the click of the outer door as it settles back into the latch.
I pressed the zoom lever, managed to focus as the deer scattered into the edge of the woods, their coughs and snorts of alarm carrying in the morning stillness.

J. lost no time in tackling the dismantling of the damaged fireplace doors.
Furniture was shoved aside, a path cleared. Ignoring my suggestion that he wait for Devin to help, J. maneuvered the heavy stove off the truck and in at the side door.  I was required to slide a length of heavy cardboard under the back of it, and then to tug on the old furniture quilt which was under the front.
J. created a crude but effective lever arrangement with a heavy plank balanced across a chunk of wood.
My job was to put my weight against the end of the plank as the stove slowly rose even with the hearth.
D. walked in the back door just as the stove came to rest against the bricks.
I left the men of the family to wrestle it into place while I made them a hearty breakfast of steak, baked stuffed potatoes, butternut squash and cole slaw.
[Yes, I know, not your traditional breakfast fare, but it was by now after 10 a.m. and I felt we needed hearty nourishment!]

The stove in place, hearth swept and a fire built.
We will miss seeing the flames.
Eggnog, my dear elderly Siamese, loves to sit on the hearth and watch the fire by the hour.
Here is Willow, cautiously inspecting this new large source of warmth.
Having furniture dis-arranged was a good prompt to vacuum up dust, scrub some baseboards and clean the kitchen floor on hands and knees.

Leaving me to deal with dust and wood chips, J. and D. decided to 'hoe out' the garage.
With the kitchen more or less in order, I turned out a batch of molasses/ginger cookies with lemon icing.
D. wolfed about 10 cookies before heading home.
I set out sliced apples, chunks of Cabots cheddar, and cookies; tea for me, instant coffee for J.
A satisfying warmth spread from the new stove as the sun disappeared behind the leafless trees.
I brought a book with me to the table, content to call it a day.


  1. Lovely! I've just come in with the dogs and that breakfast sounds wonderful.
    I loved the skies, the deer and the story about the coyotes.
    That new stove looks gorgeously cosy ;-)

  2. Really like the looks of your insert ought to really heat things up.
    Steak for breakfast sounds great, if you've been working hard you need lashings of protein.
    Haven't heard coyotes since we left California, kind of miss the sound.

  3. How fortunate to find an insert that fit so quickly. Love your tale of coyotes and the sky. You have such a wonderful way with words.

  4. Good morning from Oregon! Having a second cup of coffee and catching up on a few of my favorite blogs! You have such a way with words - painting a picture. I thought about hearing something here in the night and thinking I'd definitely stay inside - might be a cougar! The new fireplace stove looks great and should definitely heat your house. Can you leave the doors open at times to see the flames? The molasses cookies look delicious and remind me that's one of the cookies I want to bake this year!

  5. What a lovely description of your day - especially the "branches of the ancient apple tree were charcoal-smudges against the sky".

    Right now I don't have a lyrical word in me - too busy worrying about Tippy still as I would like to see him making faster progress. Perhaps I dropped off that tray bake at the vet's this morning too soon . . .