Season of Perpetual Fire

open wood stove

Ashley only, all the way

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.

John Hamilton Farr lives in Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. with his classical pianist wife. “Possibly the only place I can get away with this,” he says. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore (Bush’s Brain) put it in a review of John’s first book, Buffalo Lights is the work of a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” John is the author of BUFFALO LIGHTS, TAOS SOUL, ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE, and THE HELEN CHRONICLES. He has been publishing online since 1996 (Zoo Zone, Farr Site, MacFaust, GRACK!, FarrFeed) and blogs regularly here at JHFARR.COM. See also → John’s Twitter profile, Amazon Author Page, video channel at YouTube, and website photos at SmugMug. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page.  

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