Warm Willow


The fire is blazing in the wood stove, yet the thermometer stubbornly read 68 for hours before creeping up to a comfortable 70. My goal for the winter is to rely on wood heat. The furnace, safely nestled in the crawl space will be our back up, firing up only if the indoor temperature plummets under 65. We will take advantage of the sacrificial willow, which should keep us comfortable all winter.

Feeding the fire throughout the night is much like feeding an infant. Climbing out of the warm bed every three hours, shuffling down the stairs into the cooling living room, stirring the embers back into a flame to welcome three more pieces of wood. I remember sweating in the hot sun to help split the wood and stack and stack and stack them into neat piles, which fill our parking area. Now we set some of that heat free, while watching the stacks get smaller.

The spiders are confused. They have tucked themselves away in the crevices of the stacked wood to sleep. Once on the rack in the entryway they begin to awaken, believing that spring has arrived. They stand on the wall wondering just where they have been transported. If they cooperate, they are gently escorted back to their outdoor kingdom. If cooperation is not in their plan, the vacuum catches them before they climb into my bed or closet. Alas.

But every morning I sit at the front window near the fire. Our street is a busy one, people rushing to work or school, trucks transporting goods, making deliveries. My laptop warms the blanket, which covers me. Moxie lies at my feet, Pepe shares the space on the sofa. These two remind me that they are happy I work from home. The characters in my stories clamor for attention on the electronic page in front of me. It is summer there, and the willow still stands.