Pages of Life — Baby it’s cold outside

Submitted photo
Mr. Turkey looking for dinner in the snow.
Submitted photo Mr. Turkey looking for dinner in the snow.

David and I were thinking back this morning, about all the winters we have spent together. However, we can't recall it ever being this cold here. This morning it is minus 10 degrees below zero outside.

I was curious about the temperature so like most things I wonder about, I checked the internet. I asked for the coldest weather date here in Missouri. It said, on February 13, 1905, the temperature in Warsaw, Mo. dropped to minus 40 degrees.

While writing this, we were talking about how we used to love to brave these cold temperatures for outside activities.

No more... because of health. David's COPD and medicines make it unbearable for him to be out in it. We do have concerns about the less fortunate people during these extremely cold days.

And also, the animal kingdom. Even those that can weather this cold, it still is a trial when we have so many days in a row. Some of those domesticated animals, like cats and dogs really need our help. That's how we ended up with our baby kitty last year, in December 2022. The weather was freezing, and she was found along the road.

Thinking back a few years to the time, I remember the air being so crisp and cold that you could see your breath as you walked. I was remembering how we enjoyed walking along slowly hearing the crunch, crunch, of each step we took in the frozen frost covered grass. and likely get to see a coyote and other animals as they searched for food.

Even during the winter, there are many things still green in the woods. As we walked a wide area of soft green moss along the side of the creek bank seemed to beckon me to stop and rest awhile there. I couldn't resist and I plopped down recalling the day's cousin Keith and I used to walk to school and stop to rest on moss like this. David came and sat down too, and we listened to the soothing sound of the water running over the rocks, not talking, just listening.

Downstream a beautiful big Buck Deer suddenly appeared and began to drink from the creek seemingly unaware we were there. The sound of several nearby hoot owls, making all kinds of sounds, pulled us out of our thoughts and back to the present.

We decided to get up and continue on our walk. It doesn't take long to get chilled if you set still. Suddenly, even deep in the woods, I caught the familiar drift of wood stove smoke. It smelled so good with years of memories flooding through my mind at rapid speed. It's that heartwarming smell of your youth, grandparents, mom, daddy, and home.

I thought of my grandmas and the wood stoves they cooked on. I remembered the huge pile of small, finely cut; cook stove wood grandpa kept at the edge of the yard, only taking in the kitchen a small amount at a time. And also, there was a big box of corncobs nearby available to burn.

Could there be anything better than a meal cooked on a wood cook stove? If I lived where I could have one, I'd have one now. Anyone who hasn't experienced this has missed out.

My grandparents and my dad also had several kinds of saws. I wish I had space to describe them. For many days daddy, with help of someone else, would-be cutting trees into poles and hauling them by wagon and horses to the house. After he had a big pile of poles there ready to make into firewood, there was a firewood cutting day called. Everyone worked together this way. David remembers several of these wood cutting events in his childhood too with his dad, Uncles, and neighbors. It was a planned event like house raising, butchering, and times everyone shared.

There is nothing that can warm you like a wood stove! And I never minded packing the wood in or taking the ashes out.

As a girl I would keep the wood stacked as high as daddy would let me, behind our stove. We always had a pan of water heating on the top of the stove. This was good for instant hot water for washing dishes, and served to keep moisture in the house, what we miss in the modern heated homes nowadays. Another thing I remember is coming in from the cold and warming your hands over the stove. I just read Corey Atterberry talking about this once on Facebook. With central heat where do you go to warm your hands?

David misses being able to go out and cut a load of wood. He would run the chain saw, and our sons would be splitting and loading the truck. Usually, I was home cooking.

Once we thought we would do some kidding and take a picture of me pretending to be sawing. We took a series of pictures of me, just for fun, of me cutting down the tree, splitting the wood, and then loading the truck. We showed it to a lot of people, and they were all surprised that I was using the chain saw. Then one observant lady at church said, "Hey, you are not running the saw. The chain is not moving!"

When we were raising our three sons on the farm, David and the boys always kept a huge pile of split wood that looked like a mountain, ready for the stove. When we see someone now using mechanical wood splitters David always laughs and says, "I had three wood splitters that could beat theirs all the way. Their names were Daniel, Randy, and Eric." It was not unusual for them to bring in five or six pickup loads in one day.

I believe I told you before in a story about our goats, how they would love to climb the huge wood pile. We were all looking out the window and laughing at one of the goats playing 'king of the mountain' on top of the wood pile. Suddenly Daniel was not laughing and looked pale as the goat jumped over on the hood of his first car, he worked hard to pay for, a Pontiac Firebird sports car. He never parked close to the wood pile again.

David told me many wood stove adventures of his days as a boy and how he had the job of going to neighbors and family and cleaning their chimneys for them. Things can go wrong using wood stoves if you do not understand what you are doing, and one time it went very wrong for him.

He was a small boy staying all night at his grandmother's when he decided one wintry morning to get the fire going for her. He got his kindling wood all set in the stove then picked up a can of kerosene and poured some on the wood so it would light easier. He did not realize there were coals still burning underneath the ashes. He saw steam coming up and as he watched, it blew up! His hair was burned and his chest also. He learned a lifetime lesson that day and thankfully was not hurt worse.

I am thankful to be sitting back now in a warm home and we don't have to be concerned much about the heat unless we lose electricity. But I still do miss the warmth and have fond memories of those old wood stoves and those growing up days of winters!