I'm thinking back this morning, while watching the snow coming down and blowing pass our patio door, about all the years when my husband, David, and I loved to brave these cold temperatures.
We can't do it now because of health issues. I remember the air being so crisp and cold that you could see your breath as you walked.
We enjoyed walking along slowly and hearing the sound of each step we took in the frosty grass. We would likely get to see a coyote and other animals as they searched for food.
Even when it's zero degrees outside, the forest still contains many green things.
Years ago, there was a big area of soft green moss along the side of the creek bank that seemed to beckon me to stop and rest awhile. I couldn't resist, and I plopped down recalling the days when my cousin, Keith, and I used to walk to school and stop to rest on moss like this. Funny, that was more than 70 years ago and I still know just where it is.
David came and sat down too, and we listened to the soothing sound of the water running over the rocks, in the few places that were not completely frozen over — not talking, just listening.
A little way downstream, a beautiful big buck deer suddenly appeared, and began to paw at a spot so he could get a drink from the creek. He seemed unaware that we were there.
A sound of several nearby hoot owls, making all kinds of sounds, pulled us out of our thoughts and back to the present. I pulled out my phone as I sometimes do, to capture the sounds of the woods.
We decided to get up and continue on. It doesn't take long to get chilled if you set still. Suddenly, even deep in the woods, I caught the familiar scent of drifting wood stove smoke. It smelled so good and sent 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 finely-cut cook stove wood grandpa kept at the edge of the yard, only taking in the kitchen a small amount at a time. There was also a big box of corncobs nearby available to burn.
Could there be anything better than a meal cooked on a wood stove? The food seems to have that special taste, like campfire cooking does. If we lived where we could have one, I'd have one now. Anyone who hasn't experienced this has missed out.
My grandparents and my dad had several kinds of saws. I wish I had space to describe them. Daddy and a helper would spend many days 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, he'd call a firewood cutting day. 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 or butchering.
There's nothing that can warm you like a wood stove! 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 also served to keep moisture in the house, which 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 recall our friend, Cory Atterberry, who grew up with a wood stove also, asking, "Where do you go to warm your hands?" That was my first thought, too, when we moved in to this new era. I'm thankful now to be setting back in a warm house, just watching the snow piling up, and not having to be concerned much about the heat unless we lose electricity.
But I still do miss the warmth and have fond memories of those wood cutting days and the old wood stoves!
I want to relate so many funny stories, but another time. I am out of my allotted space. I find I tend to be like Garrison Keillor: One story runs into another!