Winter is coming. I can feel it in the air. Actually, I felt the most subtle of weather shifts in July. I've made it a priority to get firewood in as early as possible. I believe it will be a cold and (hopefully) snowy winter.
Starting the woodstove, our primary source of heat, on a cold and windy winter night is no fun. Kindling is a must and sometimes the stove decides to be stubborn. We put fatwood to good use, but it can get expensive. SO. I've been thinking I'll make my own firestarters. It'll get me out of the office for a walk among the towering pines.
I take a nearby dirt road up the mountain and stop as I find a perfect spot for a walk.
Ikea bag (how many uses do these things have?!) in hand, I begin my walk. It's a perfect day with the hushed quiet of the wind breathing through the pines while the sun plays with the shadows.
As I walk through the pines, I stop to pick up dry pine cones, placing them in my ikea bag. This feels meditative. Not realizing I've been out for an hour, I realize I now have filled two bags full of cones. I walk back to the truck and put the cones in the back seat.
I drive home and prepare a double boiler using an old pot and metal bowl I had put aside for garden use. I melt paraffin wax with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Once completely melted, I dip the pine cones in the paraffin keeping at least one inch of one end free of wax. I set these out to dry on wax paper. Once dried, this takes overnight as I want to be sure all is really dry, I put the waxed cones in an earthen crock by the stove.
A few nights later, it is chilly enough for us to want an "ambiance fire." Not so cold as to need it, but chilly enough to snuggle on the couch with the cats and lose ourselves gazing into the fire. Life is good.
Dr. Christine Girard is a physician and educator. Prior to medical school, she worked as a sous chef and baker at a vegan, macrobiotic restaurant. She lives off-grid in Northern Arizona.