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Date:12/28/2014 2:55:55 PM
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Coziness, Part III
I am still on the subject of the wonderful sense of coziness in the midst of winter. "Drowsy animals, snug in their holes, while wind and rain were battering at their doors, recalled still keen mornings . . ." was how Kenneth Grahame described the weather-bound characters of his book reminiscing about the previous summer.

It has been said that man lives from want to want, or from need to need. I can think of nothing more visceral than being freezing cold and then finding a warm place out of the elements. Just a year or two after that particular snow day Pa had the exterior of David's house completed, just in time for winter. One winter's evening Pa had all three of us sons help him install a 55 gallon oil drum as a stove for David's basement. Stupidly, I thought we'd only be there a little while so I wore my moccasins. (Hey, I was about fifteen, okay?) Of course my feet were almost numb by the time we had set it up on the iron legs Pa had soldered on beforehand. He had also hack sawed a door and damper on one end of the drum and it made a pretty passable stove. Snow, ice, and frozen clods of dirt still clung to the sides of the barrel from where it had lain outside for the last month in wait for the chimney to be completed. Pa fitted the stove pipe and then built the makings of a fire. Being a consummate countryman, he wouldn't think of assembling a woodstove without firing it up to see how it would work.

We all pulled up blocks of wood to sit on as we gathered around the stove. I rested my aching feet on another woodblock and clenched my teeth. To complain about my frozen feet would be to expose myself to totally righteous ridicule as to my stupidity for going out into the winter night without wearing insulated boots or at least shoes. At first the stove smoked and smelled a little as the rust in the interior burned away. Then, the dried odds and ends of all sorts of discarded lumber caught fire full bore and the stove roared. The frozen ice, snow, and dirt clumps smoked, melted and then dropped of the stove's round sides. Now we could all feel the heat. Pa smiled at his handiwork. David smiled at having a good first stove for his house. Tommy smiled at just taking part in the experience and I swear that I must've wiped a tear from my eye to feel my frozen toes warm in the glow of that stove's first fire. In a short time the sides of the drum were glowing red and the inferno within was chugging like a locomotive. Even Pa began to worry about the strength of his fire as we scraped our woodblocks away from the heat. As for me, I felt the tingle and agony of thawing feet and then the comfort of being thoroughly warm on a cold winter's eve. Poor ol' Moley never felt such relief as I did on that December night! Pa closed off the damper and we talked as the fire slowly reduced in strength. I guess that I will always have an appreciation of coziness as a result of that evening. -- Gary
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