The season has officially ended in our household. Not due to the equinox, or the increases in patchy rain, or even school having about 40 days left (not that Jules is counting). Nope, the season in our household ends when the firewood ends. Four cords of wood has been reduced to one small stack in the corner of the living room which awaits a cold night.
This year has been a good one. The entire winter we only used the heat in spotty increments, mainly during the afternoon-evening transition, when the house would get a slight chill. Ten to fifteen minutes of heat every few days or so lead to 30 dollar heating bills during our coldest months. Paying $120 for heating the house an entire year seems pretty darn fabulous to us. Even when the temperature didn't get past 12 degrees for a week, we stuck true to our wood fire and loved every minute of it.
Going back to heat via the furnace is definitely not an option. There is just something inherently snuggly and warming about a fire. The sense of heat is much deeper and fulfilling. Before this I didn't have any kind of judge for what real heat felt like since a furnace was my reference point. Real warmth is much wetter than the dry furnace heat. How warmth can be wet is a bit beside me, but wine can taste dry and that seems counter intuitive as well. Firewood warmth tends to expand in a room and feel almost heavy in the air, it is not light like furnace heat. Also, the smell of the hearth in the house is so much more welcoming. Walking up to our front door you can smell the fire burning from the chimney and you just long to be inside. I don't much want to ever live again without that level of longing to be home and with my family.
The knowledge that we have cut our own fuel, made our own fire, and created the warmth with our hands causes a so much more complete feeling about our life. We can now measure a winter by firewood rack and truly have a sense of the nature around us. I could not have told you before what the teens really felt like temperature wise. Nor could I have informed anyone how long our winters really stayed cold. Now I have fully lived this experience and know very well. The teens start to make your chest a little tight if you spend much time out in them. It takes about 1 cord (1 rack) of wood to last a month. Four cords works very well, but it is a little tight for our liking. Next year we are going to up it one more cord just so that we can be completely safe.
We have walked away with a better understanding of the resources we have used and the knowledge that energy taken from the earth means equal energy spent by us. If there was any testament to the importance of lost skills our year of firewood would be it.