I Remember the Stove


This stove sits in the dining room of the house I grew up in. When we would lose electricity, which of course only happened when the nastiest of blizzards would be blowing through, this was our only source of heat. We wtould hang quilts to separate this room from the others, to keep the heat concentrated during extended outages. I loved, and still do, leaning onto this stove, my backside quickly warming up so I would have to arch forward for a few seconds losing contact
and then returning my  cooled butt to its comforting and familiar heat. After chores, mittens of all sizes would cover the top to dry away the snow and cold. There was nothing like that moment slipping the gloves back on, hot and crustily dried, before going out for the evening chores when it was 20 degrees below windchill. Mom would also keep an old teapot filled with water to humidify the room. The kettle had so much mineral build-up from decades of evaporation, the spout was blocked shut. It burns oil, not wood, and if it wasn’t venting properly, the smell would choke me and sting my eyes. My dad, with his 100 lb frame and aging bones, keeps the stove running at least 300 days a year, easily. I’ve walked into the house on balmy summer days and have felt heat from its surface. I’m so accustomed to its warm presence that when it is off , the cold iron feels foreign and awkward. I imagine its like trying to hug a corpse of someone you loved dearly.

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