Here's the Scoop: March 5, 2014

Must be that time again
It’s official. I’ve crossed the annual line — I’m hating firewood. Well, “hating” is a strong term, but my relationship with all things bark-covered is certainly strained.
This happens every almost spring, of course. After nearly constant wood burning since October, the romance with the fireplace has cooled. It’s OK, though.
After many years of burning wood as a companion to oil heat, I know the signs well. Sometimes the weariness of the firewood process gradually works its way into my soul. Other times, like this season, there’s a traceable “Wow, I can’t burn another log!” moment.
Anyone who has stuck around the northeast this winter will agree that the season has been much more harsh than most in recent memory. We’ve had a nearly constant covering of snow, but it’s the below-average cold that really has chilled folks — especially in the wallet.
I haven’t stopped to tally my “savings” from wood burning, but it’s probably a decent amount — on the surface. If I factor in the wood cutting, hauling, splitting and lugging into the house, the savings rate would dip quite a bit. That’s all right, because I do enjoy those tasks. To a point.

Feeling is mutual
In recent weeks, I’ve talked to quite a few wood-burning folks who commented that they’ve had to replenish their firewood supplies. There was a period when I feared that I’d have to break down and call a vendor to boost our stack, but it seems the pile is ample enough to pull us through to warmer days. Especially if we stop using the fireplace.
That’s not going to happen, despite me suffering my annual bout of “burn out.” Still, I hit the wall this week and it was like running full-speed into a mighty oak tree.
Arriving home late the other night, there was no wood inside and the pile outside seemed like it was miles away. In reality, the firewood stack was less than 75 feet away. But there was a thick coating of snow. Temperatures had already dipped below zero.
As I stared at the firewood stack and wondered why I hadn’t brought in a stash during the daytime when it was “much” warmer, I began to hallucinate a bit. Suddenly, the firewood pile began to resemble a hulking oil delivery vehicle. I hadn’t seen one of those at our house since the fall, but have heard tales that Bill Gates would be struggling to pay his oil bill, given the spike in prices.

Can’t be that bad
Using the image of the oil truck as motivation, I trudged to the pile to grab a night’s supply of wood. Finishing this task, I was soon faced with some other burning realities. We had no kindling. The glass on the fireplace door was dirty (pet peeve of mine). And, well, we didn’t even have any matches. Sure, we had the gas stove as an ignition source, but the lack of matches was surely a sign that it has been a long winter in the firewood world.
Despite all these obstacles, I was able to get the fire going and it was roaring a short time later. I stretched out on the couch and escaped for a time into the world of newspaper accounts of Spring Training updates. Yes, warmer days would be here soon. I’m already looking forward to evenings filled with fireflies — and bonfires.
— Brian Sweeney