Growing up, I lived in only two houses. Both had fireplaces, so fall was always special to me. From eating roasted pumpkin seeds in front of the fire to cuddling under a blanket and watching a movie while the snow fell outside, we usually had a fire going if we were home for the night. I miss those days, but I have taken a big step towards making the cabin more like the home of my childhood.
Last week, my new (new to me) stove was delivered and installed. There’s a shiny new chimney poking up above the peak of the cabin, and gone is the huge black box that was my old woodstove. Of course, on the day the stove was delivered, it was close to seventy degrees out, so I could not get a fire going right away. That did not stop me from sitting and staring at the new stove with its nice glass doors, just beckoning me to get a fire going and sit there enjoying the flames for the first time in years.
After the delivery guys left and the stove was all set, I had to do something to get myself away from the stove. I won’t lie, I was giddy.
I tore myself away and took Pico for a quick walk down the road. We don’t get a whole lot of traffic down here, so for about a mile down the road, we’re pretty much assured we won’t run into anyone. I take these opportunities to let Pico run around and smell whatever animal poop may be on the road. He loves it, and I love seeing how happy he is to add his scents to the markings of bear, bobcat, and fox.
But believe it or not, I had yet to see a fox out here. They’re not uncommon in this area, and it’s rarely more than a couple of weeks between sightings when I’m driving to or from work or town. As we crested the small rise in the road near my neighbor’s camp, Pico stopped suddenly. I looked up, and down the road about a hundred yards there stood a small red fox, more brown than red really.
He had seen us too, and as I sternly whispered “stay” to Pico, the fox stood his ground. He was turned broadside to us, and the deep rusty brown of his fur was shining in one of the few sunbeams poking through the trees. He and Pico stared at each other for a few seconds before Pico gave a quick wag of his tail.
The fox responded in kind, and slowly made his way across the rest of the road and into the fall woods. Pico looked up at me with his goofy grin and trotted off the pee on some small shrub on the roadside. I decided that we should turn around there, instead of getting too close to where the fox had been. I didn’t want Pico bothering him, and I didn’t want him bothering us either.
When we got back to the cabin, I realized that that was the first fox we had come across, and probably the first fox Pico had ever seen. I liked his reaction, and even though that very same fox could eventually end up with one of my chickens as his dinner, I was glad to have seen him just the same.
I impatiently waited another hour for the sun to go down, and got a small fire going in the new stove. I sat there and watched the flames licking the top of the stove, glad to be able to add to the cabin ambiance. If this place was lacking anything, it was lacking a fire you could see. The weather has still been too hot to have another fire, but now I’m in no rush. The stove is here, and long nights of sitting in front of the fire are something I can look forward to.