The first time I set foot in our little house, I got teary. Granted, I wasn’t very emotionally stable at the time. I had decided to leave my husband. I had been living at my mom’s for a couple months. I had to get my kids settled, and the weight of the transition was heavy on me. The realtor unlocked the maroon door and we stepped into the open living room/dining room area. I took one look at the wood stove, glanced at the dark red walls in the kitchen, and I knew it would be our home.
I always wanted a wood stove at Mark’s house. I’m always cold, and I wear layers, even in summer. We deal with a lot of winter, and a wood stove provides a comfort that you don’t get from an electric blanket or forced air heat, or a narcissistic husband. Besides, I love the ritualistic aspects of burning wood. There’s the physical labor of finding and cutting and hauling and stacking the wood. And there’s the continual feeding of the fire. Will and I even cleaned our chimney this year. I don’t care that it’s messy. I love the smell as much as the warmth. It’s basic to survival. It connects me to the process of life.
Mark doesn’t like burning with wood because it’s messy, smelly, and hard to control.
It was our first winter here, and I jumped up to put another log in the wood stove. Without realizing I was doing it, I started singing a song from my college days.
“So, put another log on the fire.
Cook me up some bacon and some beans.
Go out to the car and lift it up and change the tyre.
Wash my socks and sew my old blue jeans.
Come on, baby, you can fill my pipe,
And then go fetch my slippers.
And boil me up another pot of tea.
Then put another log on the fire, babe,
And come and tell me why you’re leaving me.”
A few hundred years ago, I had an old 8-Track of Waylon and Willie. I’m sure I almost wore the thing out. That song always made me laugh. All these years later, that song has become part of my fire feeding ritual. About the third or fourth time I belted the tune, Jenny said, “Well, duh! Why do ya think she’d leave ya? He’s not too bright, is he, mom?”
Now, even when Will feeds the fire, he channels Waylon.
I lived with a man as clueless as the old cowboy in that song. More than that, I intimately know the desperation of the woman who is packing her bags.