What I expected of this circa 1975 Vermont Castings Defiant I wood burning stove from the moment we moved on to the farm was consistent, predictable, affordable heat output.
What I didn’t expect was its ability to effectively bend time. Its effect on our home is akin to that iconic rooftop scene from The Matrix — you know, the one where one of the agents fires on Neo and he dodges the bullets with an impressive back-bending flail? Yeah, it’s something like that.
This time bending occurs in two ways.
Firstly (and this is the collective experience of all those who’ve chanced upon a properly stoked woodburning stove), the Defiant has the uncanny ability to cause drowsiness.
And secondly (the source of this morning’s musing), the Defiant demands my attention, and for prolonged periods of time. Every morning, I wake up, tiptoe out of the bedroom (lest I wake my slumbering bride), turn on the Keurig, and take my place before the stove. I gently sift through last night’s coal bed, separating the ash from the embers, scoop the ashes into a metal pail that must be as old as I am, rake the embers toward the main stove door, toss in a few pieces of kindling and a couple of smallish logs, close the stove door to about an inch (to create draft), walk the ashes to the back steps, hiting “brew” on the Keurig as I pass by, drop the ash bucket outside, check the temperature in the mudroom, slip my slippers back on, grab my coffee mug, and return to the Defiant, you know, just to see how she’s doing.
An old wooden rocking chair makes an acceptable perch.
The kindling has caught, and the flames both lick the larger logs and recreate the setting for Plato’s Cave on the western great room wall. My coffee is delicious, dark and robust and sweetened with homemade creamer (14oz condensed milk, 14oz regular milk, 1 tbsp vanilla extract); the pine kindling pops and crackles and makes the house smell like a log cabin.
And before I’ve finished half a cup, thirty minutes have passed. Thirty quiet, simple, attentive Matrix minutes of peace and prayer.
And then the goats start calling.