I am Woman ~ Hear me Chop

I've warned you all that spring arrives late where I live, which is a more pleasant way of saying the winters are long. This winter has seemed especially so. 

This past Sunday we hiked at a nearby mountain through calf deep snow. This is a local mountain, not one of the mountains deep in the middle of the peninsula where we expect snow this time of year. 

chopped kindling

Last week there was snow on the ground every morning. (If you follow my instagram you know what I'm talking about.) The snow would melt by the end of the day, but still. Snow every day.

To fight back the dreariness of late winter/early spring snow I've been making fire in the wood burning stove. 

Wood heating is new to us. Last winter we lived in our first home with a wood burning stove. We used it sporadically. Our living space was tiny and the electric heaters warmed it up super quick and clean (wood heating is messy).

This is our second year, and second home, heating with wood. Or rather, supplementing with wood. Heating a whole house with wood is an homemaking art and science that we have not perfected. 

To heat well with wood you need a good system; which includes sourcing good good, stacking, chopping, etc. We haven't become adept yet at the system and so we use our electric heat a lot. Thankfully electricity is relatively cheap in Quebec. 

As we neared the end of March we were relying on electric heat more and more. The days were slowly warming and I think Damien was tired of the wood and fire management. Like I said, we're new to this and it's not yet an easy part of our living routine.

But I missed the wood heat. The house does not have the same quality, or quantity of warmth when we use electric heat only. 

fire hearth

At the end of March we took a spontaneous trip to visit my parents for Easter. Thursday morning we e-mailed my mom asking if we could come ("of course!"). Friday morning we were loaded in the car ready to go. 

My dad is a master wood burning stove man. I didn't grow up with wood heat. Wood is a more precious commodity on the prairies than it is in Nova Scotia or Quebec. This wood burning routine is new to all of us since living out east, but my Dad has it perfected. 

Each morning I woke up at Mom & Dad's to a roaring fire in the hearth and I was warmed in my soul as much as my body. 

I came home wanting to create the same effect. I need warmth in my soul this time of year as we wait we long for spring's warmth and color. 

chopped fire by hearth

Something else I need this time of year is physical labor. I need to use my muscles and be in my body doing something grounding, something earthy.

So I'm chopping wood and making fire. 

Not every day, but often. There is something so satisfying about an axe splitting wood. That heavy thunk, crack. And then the snap and sizzle of kindling catching flame. 

I used to light a candle on winter mornings. A way of welcoming warmth and beauty into my days. Now, when I get up the sky is already bright. No candle is needed to break the dark. 

But now, making fire has become my ritual for greeting and warming the day. 

woman with axe

My kids, who love mythology, tell me I'm like the Greek goddess Hestia, goddess of the hearth and home. I'm not too sure about the goddess part but keeper of hearth and home sounds about right as far as my job description goes. 

(For the record, there has been no snow this week, yet. Spring may be just around the corner.)

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  • Alaina

    Alaina on April 18, 2013, 2:34 p.m.

    Send some spring this way!!!  We still have so much snow (about 1 foot left, most places except the odd patch of grass in the sun and the pavement is now clear). Normally we just have some piles left by this time- but we are supposed to get more snow today.  I am really ready for it to be over with.  I had a dream about leaves opening on trees!  However the kids do like to play in it, although now its a wet snow.  


  • Francesca

    Francesca on April 18, 2013, 7:17 p.m.

    I love your new space here! 

    We've been heating primarely with wood for about 15 years now - there's nothing like the dry long-lasting quality of wood heat, and the warm ambience feeling of that orange glowing light in a crackling fireplace/stove.  But heating with wood takes a lot of time, both in managing it, and in cleaning after it. I reckon that all in all, even with the boys taking care of the wood supply, I spend about 1 - 2 hours a day after our woodheating.  Given that I live in rural middle of nowhere, I wouldn't have it any other way.  But I'm so glad when the season changes, and I wake up to coffee making, and not to fire making!


  • Alyssa

    Alyssa on April 18, 2013, 7:58 p.m.

    We heat with wood and you are right - it is a what we call a "lifestyle." I am a horrible wood splitter, so I mostly leave that to my wonderful husband but I get to do the clean up and boy that for sure adds up quickly!  There is nothing like having that hot, cozy fire in the woodstove to relax, cuddle up or just warm your toes by. :) Happy splitting - way to go!


  • Sarah m

    Sarah m on April 18, 2013, 10:20 p.m.

    I love that last picture! You look like you've been having fun for sure.

    My husband and I love wood-burning fireplace or stoves. We actually bought our first house BECAUSE of the fireplace (and fenced, large backyard) and we really miss it--not having been able to rent a place with one in years since we sold the house.  I love the coziness of a wood-burning fire.

    Sarah M


  • stacey

    stacey on April 19, 2013, 1:37 p.m.

    Your pictures are always so lovely and warm, even when you are bundled up or when snow is falling. I long for a wood stove or fireplace but we have neither at the moment.  I always look forward to that first fall morning when you go outside and the smell of wood smoke hits, heaven.


  • Ruth L

    Ruth L on April 20, 2013, 2:49 p.m.

    Great blog - Uncle Eldon says the same thing..... loves the saturation of a wood fire heating the room, but unfortunately we don't have a wood stove - yet, anyways....... BTW, I like the new format of your page.  Missed your posts but glad you're back~~!


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on April 29, 2013, 4:02 p.m.

    This is why many women love to live in cabins without electricity in the Yukon. To experience that Hestia Goddess part of themselves. There is nothing more satifsfying than being warm thanks to a fire that you made with wood that you chopped yourself! I sure am looking forward to that for next winter and will remember your words!


    • renee

      renee on April 29, 2013, 8:35 p.m.

      If I didn't know better I'd think you're trying to sell me on the Yukon! (Between this comment and your e-mails). It's all good! We met new friends this weekend who settled here recently after touring Canada looking for intentional communities. They met in Yellowknife and then lived in Whitehorse in their early together years and when their first child was young (so three to five years ago or so). They loved it! They say, like you, the community there is great. They are bilingual Canadians. One from Quebec, one from the west. 


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