THE FROG POND - The Monster in My Living Room or Ben Franklin's Revenge


By Suzanne Mazer Stewart

Our house has a woodstove, and with the ever-increasing amount the utilities want to keep our furnace functioning, we use that stove to help heat our home. In theory, that's all very well and good; very practical, you might say. In practice, however, I think sometimes I'd rather surrender to the gas company.

Take, for example, the whole matter of timing. You will ALWAYS run out of wood in the woodbox at exactly the coldest, windiest, wettest, moment of the day. It just makes those treks out to the woodshed that much more enjoyable, I can tell you.

And speaking of windy moments, let's not forget that downdrafts can only occur when the doors are open and someone can get the full-face effect of smoke and ash, as they and everything in the room are suddenly covered in an inch of protective gray.

Now, allow me please, a moment to mention the impact our great black iron friend has on our children. Sure, they love it when they come in to a nice, toasty-warm house, or when boots and mittens can be warmed before wearing. Every luxury, though, apparently has its price. Our ten-year-old daughter whines constantly about how her clothes and hair carry that AWFUL smell, all the while hacking and coughing like a veteran cigar enthusiast. And adding a log or removing the ashes can not be attempted without the accompianment of "Let me help! Let me help!" from our 3 year old little girl. All of this, however, doesn't begin to compare to the antics of the 7 year old male child. The ash hod, it seems, is the perfect place to practice accurate spitting now that the cold weather makes that activity uncomfortable to perform outside. The conspicuous sounds of "PFFT-PFFT-HISSS" attest to poor aim, and therefore, he claims, his need for practice. I guess I should be lucky the baby can't walk or talk yet.

I'm not even going to say a word about my husband's preference for stoking the fire up to the point where the living room could double as a sauna, or how he conveniently forgets to stock the wood box before going to work. I can't, really. I have to go get the cat out from underneath the stove before her tail catches fire.

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