An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Stove duties


There is something both satisfying and comforting about running a log burning stove. The heat it produces is comforting in the evenings when we withdraw to the middle floor to relax and recap the day. The incarnadine glow, the dancing of the flame all around, licking the logs before it consumes them, and the hot hot radiant heat. The smell of stove is the smell of winter: the smells of olive logs burning and lavender stalks toasting on the top. These smells permeate the house all winter long and long into the spring: they fix themselves into what soft furnishings we have.

Before the stove where I kneel to clean the grate every morning and build that coming night's fire the grout between the terracotta tiles is darker: there, over by the sofa, it is a dark grey while here it is more nearly black from the soot that daily is scraped from the viewing window cut into the loading door of the dull black stove. Beside it to the right sits the black hammerited log basket full of olives cut from older trees in the annual cleaning of the groves and in front of that another pile, freestanding. To its right is a tall pierced stainless steel bin that holds kindling for the next four days: discarded, worn out shuttering timber, dried through summer and chopped in winter. Between them is a natural, green, and purple, rafia basket filled to almost overflow with ripped up newspapers, wire brushes, gloves, blocks of firelighting material purchased at the local supermarket, a lighter and the scraper that I use to clean our portal to the heart of the fire.

But the stove is just a symptom of the way we live. A signifier. We try as best we can to live in harmony with the world of nature here and to do as little damage as we can and there is a virtuous circle to the wood burning stove. The same though is true of our water usage. A recent poll on an online community that I inhabit asked how often people showered or bathed and my response, among all the 3 times a day north americans, was simply - in winter when we have hot water. Our washing water is heated by the sun and so showering and washing clothes (which Gill does exclusively by hand and which is dried either in the sun or wind, or both, or by the stove) are done when we have hot water. Our drinking water we collect from a natural spring and the once or twice in a year when the car gets a wash it is always done in irrigation water.

We are not, nor have ever been, eco-warriors or tree huggers, we hardly even qualify as card carrying Greens it just seems that living here deep in diurnal touch with nature has adjusted us and our attitudes toward respect and care for that which nurtures and sustains us all.

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