Say it isn’t so, except it is. At least the good thing about burning piñon, a variety of wood I never even heard about before moving to northern New Mexico, is that it’s so dense, a hefty log laid inside the venerable Ashley hippie hero wood stove from the ’60s will leave a hot pile of coals aglow till morning. Whereupon you load more piñon inside and lo, it starts up again all by itself. Sometimes a single match can help accelerate the process if it’s smoking, but be careful. Then all you do is shut the door, wait until the pipe starts “cricking,” and attempt to stop the runaway volcano in its tracks by closing down the draft. If you’re lucky, it just sits there incandescing for a couple of hours and no one burns the house down. If you’re not, extraordinary measures may be called for which I won’t discuss, except to say that every year some poor Texan up in Angel Fire thinks he knows the ropes and blows the stove to kingdom come. Living on the frontier is not for amateurs or people who skipped physics.
Oh, yes. You also have to climb up on the roof and knock the soot down from the chimney with a long stick or a length of chain you twirl around, maybe once a week or two, or else you’ll learn how chimney fires work. This procedure is best initiated before you see the stovepipe bleeding smoke inside the house, because you might not wake up in the morning. Just as well, I guess, because a cord of piñon costs so much.
But damn, it does burn great.