Veronica Bale

AND HER LITTLE WRITING LIFE

It resides permanently in my basement, in a ten-by-ten nook parcelled out of the main floor plan behind the garage. It is squat, square and black. It is my new favourite thing on these cold, rainy spring nights. It is… my wood stove.

My actual stove. I call her Delilah.

Two years ago, I bought a fixer-upper that I was going to love and nurture and restore to its original beauty. I even blogged about it in a post called My Little Fixer-Upper. Built in 1976, my home has many of those features which were popular in this bygone era. Shag carpet, avocado green door handles, harvest yellow pendant lamp and matching harvest yellow walls. Most of these 70s-era features are happily gone, but there is one that remains: the wood stove.

Why I have not indulged in its delicious warmth and tranquility before now, I know not. I’m an outdoorsy kind of girl. I love to camp and I love to spend time in nature. The scent of wood smoke is like the primal beckoning of the potent pheromone to this writer’s olfactory delight. This might lead one to think that I would have been bundled in the basement from day one, enjoying a cheerful little blaze all my own night after night. Especially when one considers that, having previously lived in a new build house, in a community where new builds are swiftly outnumbering the older homes of generations past, I had been deprived of my beloved wood fire for many long years.

I may have been slow to fall in love with my wood stove, but I’ve fallen in love now, and that’s what matters.

Today I spend evenings in front of my wood stove, reading. I am bundled beneath a cozy blanket, accompanied often by my favourite lady friend, the full-bodied Ms. Cab Sauv. Oh, the bliss. Chapter upon chapter slips away as I sink into a state of quiet joy. When I am in front of my wood stove, the world can disappear. Just for a moment. Just for a few hours. The rest of the house is in dinner-induced disarray but that doesn’t matter. The kids are upstairs bickering over a board game, and I couldn’t care less—let The Hubby deal with them. I am at peace.

(There is a global pandemic raging just outside my door which has caused unimaginable suffering, fear and grief. For a few blissful hours, I can put that aside and ground myself in the flickering orange flames of my wood stove. It will all still be there tomorrow. But for now, for a short time, I am released.)

When I have spent an evening in front of my wood stove, and I am left with nothing but glowing red embers, I know it has been time well spent. Those embers, gently throbbing as they, like I, slip into slumber beneath the blanket of night, are the proof that life is precious. These are the small, seemingly inconsequential but oh-so-vital things that make us human.  

Those embers glow like my soul after an evening spent reading in front of my wood stove.

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