Soucheray: The call of the backyard

Year after year for as far back as I can remember I would answer the door to the young guy in the long flannel shirt.
“Need any firewood?’’
“Can’t say that I do.’’
“OK, then.’’
On the occasion we had a fire I suppose I picked up a bundle of wood at a gas station or a nursery. I also went through that 1970s period of lighting wax logs, which I suppose is like eating a vegetable hamburger, not quite the real thing.
In a previous house, which was old enough to have been wet plastered in wedding cake swirls, I made a critical mistake with a fireplace fire that placed me in high suspicion thereafter. I was cleaning the garage one autumn day, most specifically of sawdust from a boat project. I managed to fill a grocery bag to the brim with sawdust. That night I struck a fire and had the bright idea to retrieve the bag of sawdust and add it to the blaze.
Don’t ever do that.
It went off like a bomb, showering sparks against the protective screen.
“Everybody get back!’’
Kids shrieked and fled. The CP cried out to call the fire department.
“No, no, give it a minute. Get in another room.’’
In that minute the plaster of which I was so fond cracked and fissured and changed from brilliant white to, well, Old English White, not exactly white, but now featuring just a faint hint of cream. OK, yellow.
Man, was I in trouble.
The fire did settle down and the house remained intact. But the wall around the fireplace needed grave attention.
Fires became more infrequent after that, as you might imagine.
Still, year after year there was that knock at the door.
“Need any firewood?’’
“Can’t say that I do.’’
And then 2020 happened to all of us. The pandemic has kept us at home, and to keep from going stir crazy it seems that everybody has gone into the backyard to have a fire. We got what is called a Solo stove. I don’t mean to promote it; they are probably back-ordered until 2034. It’s a brilliant device that produces a fire with no smoke. Don’t ask me how. Air circulates through holes at the top and bottom of the drum. It results in guilt-free fires! I’m not sending smoke into the neighbor’s kitchen.
There is one problem. This thing is insatiable. It consumes wood the way that long-ago fire consumed a bag of sawdust. I can’t keep up. It burns so efficiently that it needs a new log every couple of minutes.
That guy in the long flannel shirt? Somewhere he is sneering. A virus has changed his fortunes.
We have called some wood guys only to be told that if we weren’t regular customers there was nothing they could do. I got lucky with one outfit and managed to lay in a half cord for Christmas to accommodate a kid I used to have who has become Jack London. We raised a toast to him through a window on Christmas Eve.
Unfortunately, I now know how long a half cord lasts. Not long when Jack London is around.
Joe Soucheray can be reached at jsoucheray@pioneerpress.com. Soucheray’s “Garage Logic’’ podcast can be heard at garagelogic.com.
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Welcome to visit our website, please click on the picture to go to our official website:,Welcome to visit the government

Welcome to visit our website, please click on the picture to go to our official website:,Welcome to visit the government