A Morning Date With the Wood Burner

Hello darlings! I just looked at the time and it’s incredible how quickly the hours just fly ahead when I’m consumed in a task. When I got up this morning our house was so cold because we were lazy this weekend and didn’t keep an eye on the wood burner. Last night Jay went to check it and confirmed the fire had gone out some time ago, and flipped the switch to heat up our water with electricity instead. We are lucky we aren’t in the dead of winter with twenty below zero. While it’s still on the plus side, although only a few degrees, it seems the water stays warm for longer, even after the fire has gone out.

Using electricity is something I find so wasteful when we have our own wood to burn, but I am also grateful we have that option — as much as it’s not meant as backup for our laziness. However it’s very useful on those harshest and most painfully cold days since burning wood simply isn’t enough. Of course, I am completely okay with putting on an extra layer of clothes, but not having the luxury of warm water on those days isn’t so nice. That said, we haven’t had a winter like that for a long, long time now.

ash-chamber-overflowing
The ash waste goes into this container, and a big screw is attached to the handle, with which we grind the waste through a pipe in the wall and into a big barrel on the other side.

As soon as the darkness lifted, I got dressed in my work clothes and went outside to deal with the fire. I really don’t like going out there when it’s till dark, at least not up on the loft. There are so many deep corners up there and the slightest wind whistles eerily through the old wood. I’m a grown woman but still afraid of the dark and so easily spooked it’s ridiculous. Some nights I have to wrap the bed cover around my legs — I have this strange fear of something touching my feet. I’ve read and heard that I’m not alone in that, though. Do any of you have fears like that?

The first thing I do when I get out there is fill up the container with wood chips. If the fire has gone out, I have to turn the feed off before or it will push wood into the burner, which fills up and gets clogged without a fire. It is only now that I am getting the hang of all the things involved in this. The amount of times Jay has had to answer the same questions!

checking-the-wood-burner-chamber

cleaning-the-wood-burner-chamber

I think the fire went out before we ran out of wood because the burner chamber was full of wood chips and big charred/melted lumps. I have no idea what happened, but I spent the longest time cleaning before I could even get started on building the fire. I had to reach in there with my hands and dig it all out.

a-pot-full-of-ash

The actual fire is in the end part of the pipe which feeds wood, and not inside the burner chamber. Took me some time before I understood this. Air also blows through this pipe, so before the fire is alive and steady, I have to disable the screw, otherwise it will just push whatever little glowing embers have ignited out into the burner chamber. And then I have to start all over.

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the-bolt-screw-nut-thingy

I gave up trying to find the appropriate names for these parts. In the first image are the two levers — one connected to the screw and one to the engine that drives it around. That bolt (or whatever it’s called) in the second image has a ball bearing inside it (I think). It keeps the two levers connected, and before the fire burns, it has to be removed so that the engine (or compressor?) only blows air through the feed pipe. Jay was in charge of this at first, but now that I can do it, I have to be the one to tighten this bolt, otherwise I can’t get it back off. He tightens it way too much. For my strength, at least, haha.

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burning-milk-carton

We collect all burnable things from the household rubbish and use it for kindling. These milk cartons are perfect since I just open it up and fill it with paper and carton and whatever else, then light it up. After that I put it into the end of the feed pipe, where there has to be wood chips. Then I just wait until the wood a little further in is burning. This looks really cool. Like hundreds of tiny, tiny fireflies soaring out from the pipe and into the wood burner chamber. I tried to get a photo of it, but I wasn’t willing to risk the health of my camera. 😉 I did manage to catch a few flying dots of fire, though!

flying-burning-dots

So that was my morning. I think I spent almost two hours out there, and another couple of hours, almost, getting this written because I do not possess the skill of multitasking. The editing took no time at all. I barely did anything with them, and I think it’s thanks to my yummy (it is a good word!) new lens! ❤

me-and-my-beloved-coffee
Here I am, writing you lovely people and waiting for hot water so I can wash all the soot off, haha!

Now I will wish you all a wonderful week. I hope it brings many good things your way. I also want to thank you for all the lovely words you leave me, they really make me so happy and I love reading them. I will sit down and answer your comments a little later today. I’ll see you soon!

A Serene Awakening In The Mist

Hello dearest friends.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a date with Jay and the harvester. It’s not by any means one of those bigger models, but it weighs over five thousand kilos and is big enough for someone who thinks a tractor is big. When I sat up in the cabin of the harvester the tractor that usually seems so huge appeared to be oddly little next to it. This is the only harvester I have seen up close and personal, but can you believe it is operated by what looks like a gaming joystick? Push forward for driving forward, pull back for reverse, and the buttons control the tray and the big barrel that grabs the stalks and pull them toward the cutters. I can imagine it’s fun… once you learn.

Oh, it was very tricky and I didn’t get a hang of it this time. At one moment, when I had to reverse, Jay opened the door to step out on the landing to look and tell me when to stop and turn. I have just started to get a feel for the turning circle on a tractor, then this! Haha I was so awkward with my movements that the entire harvester jerked as I tried to maneuver it, and I can’t remember what I did but suddenly that big machine launched forward. If Jay hadn’t held on to the railings he would have flown right off! He took it all in good humour, but I felt so bad. No wonder he didn’t ask me to come back after I went to pick up our daughter from a birthday party. Haha

dewy-webbed-flowers

Earlier this week I had the greatest pleasure and fortune to witness one of the most beautiful and mystical misty mornings, and ever since I have been wanting to tell you about it.

When I left Sweden after finishing my studies, I have had this tendency to compare these surroundings to the majestic forests and mountains of my childhood regions. I have thought of Ångermanälven and its enchanting veils, the shifting tones dressing the mountains and valleys around it as we move toward winter with a sense of wistful longing. While mist isn’t uncommon here, and the forests are just as deep and mystical, I seem to have had it in my head that it isn’t the same. That somehow the spirit of these forests is a different one and we haven’t gotten fully acquainted yet. Does that make sense?

misty-veils-across-fields

Regardless, mornings like these carry a very special magic. When these flowing veils dance on feathered feet over the lands, they bring a quiet with them that seems to turn up the volume to an otherworldliness without definition. An atmosphere of something else entirely, something that at other times can’t be sensed. Have you ever felt it?

That night I was outside working with Jay and stood in the open doorway to peer into the grain container, I swore I could hear women singing. It sounded like they sang in Finnish, but a very unfamiliar kind. I explained to Jay why I went to stand in the corner where the mist couldn’t get into the building. I wasn’t so much frightened than just puzzled as to why I could hear it when the mist flowed past me and not when in that corner. He told me, jokingly, that perhaps it’s time I get my head checked.

dead-tree-in-hazy-morning

There have been times throughout my life when I have been more heart than head, more emotion and unheeded reaction than thoughtful action. Moments wherein I have been like a leaf in the wind (as my father so often called me), but words of caution, responsibility, right or wrong, echoed with every step I took. As a result I always felt a sense of choked delight. As though while I went my own way, my feet felt shackled and my heart torn. Shame. Shame for my dreams, for what I wanted and chased after in spite of those reprimanding voices in my head. I traveled wide and far in my little cage, with my wings constantly getting tangled up in the bars around me.

And for every lecture, for every time I received criticism or was prompted to think about what I was doing — what are you going to do with your life? — that door to my cage I kept rattling slammed into my face. Yet somehow I managed to keep on going. I adapted a way to be, since I didn’t even know how to free myself. I didn’t even know I could.

deer-in-misty-glowing-field

I have heard that people who lose a limb can still sense it there. Wiggle the toes of an amputated leg, feel an itch, even if it’s not there. That is how I perceive this cage I lived with it so long. Now that I am finally rid of it I still feel its remnants around me.

I have to fight just as hard to walk my own way as I did before, only the battle is wanting to, telling myself what I once didn’t have to, what I just knew, yet felt such deep shame for. Get your camera and go outside. Take out a piece of paper and draw. Go explore the forest. How can something that brings so much joy and soul-deep happiness be so exhausting to make myself do? Once I am there in the moment, I let go. I feel the wind on my face, the flow of life around me. But to get there I have to work my butt off on many days.

farm-shed-outline-in-mist

On this particular morning I didn’t even have to conjure the thought process. I looked out the window and knew that as soon as my daughter walked out the door to her taxi, I would join her with Loke by my side.

Moments like these give me strength and energy beyond imagination. On my worst days they confound me but give me hope. Underneath the weight of a heavy heart and bones lies a knowing the feeling will pass. I tell myself that one day I will have done more living than slumbering, and I will have regained my balance once more.

In the meantime, I want to stay awake and alert, even when it seems like all I can do is wait for that mystifying apathy to pass. I want to learn as much about myself and this stage as I can. And I hope with all my heart that one day what I go through can somehow help others through their dark hours. To know it won’t last forever.

vibrant-misty-autumn-colours

thick-mist-sunrise-treeline

To even think I was alone in this put me in isolation. Like I swam dark, deep waters with no sense of direction of the shore. Was there even a shore? Was this to be the rest of my life? Now that I know I am indeed not alone it has helped me to stay afloat when the night closes around me.

dew-drops-in-misty-sunrise

Sunrises, just before they happen, are to me so incredibly beautiful. That rimmed glow of the clouds, the clean golden shimmer kissing the tree tops. Ever so slowly that shimmer melts into a white glow, and when those first rays hit — I can’t describe it as anything other than life. A serene awakening of the cells in my skin.

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When I sat down to work on this post I intended to publish it by lunch time. It is now past midnight and with the fewer hours sleep I have been getting this past week again, I feel it has gotten to such a point I lose track of time and the trails of my thoughts. So if I seem disjointed or if anything sounds odd, that is why. Haha But I want so badly to share this morning with you that I have returned to these slow-filling lines in spite of my brain constantly begging for a shut-down.

Also, there is something else I have been wanting to tell you about, something I am so excited about. A dream I have carried deep down for the longest time, and recently I grabbed onto it with both hands. But I do want to practice that one-step-at-a-time thing. For the sake of my scatter-brain, too, I know it is easier to focus on getting one thing done before starting another if I want to succeed. And still I want so much, so many things, at the same time and try to do them. I can’t imagine how this must sound, but I will just let it be so. Creativity and inspiration that has been sleeping for so long seems to have an erratic effect on me when it awakens.

farm-building-in-misty-glow

I want to wish you a wonderful week ahead. Good night, and see you soon!

Much love. ❤