come on baby light my fire

Finally, an end to summer is in sight. This might not be a popular attitude, but I wish it were already late September, when the last bit of frenzy…

Finally, an end to summer is in sight.

This might not be a popular attitude, but I wish it were already late September, when the last bit of frenzy has vanished from our lives along with a good chunk of daylight.

Some of the poplars around our place are already speckled with yellow and on rainy days, a fire in the woodstove is not quite needed but welcome.

Right now though, we are still in feverish competition with the mice and voles in our garden, trying to beat them to the harvest. It seems that as soon as we catch one brood of the little critters, after a few days of peace among the broccoli stalks, new troops arrive and wreak havoc again.

The fresh veggies that we do manage to save, we increasingly prepare on the wood cook stove, now that it is often cool enough to do so.

The fact that it doubles as a space heater is nice in the winter, but not such a great feature in the summertime, when we usually resort to using the propane stove.

I love making fires and the wood cookstove is yet another satisfying outlet for my pyromaniac tendencies.

The somewhat time-consuming nature of a wood range, with getting it up to temperature, stoking it just right and maintaining a certain heat lends itself to a simple, unrushed lifestyle, where time swirls and eddies in its own rhythm. It might be one of those things you either love or hate.

We much prefer it over the propane stove, although I have to admit that in the mornings, we often opt for efficiency over tradition. It just takes too long for the coffee water to boil on the wood cookstove.

We’ve tried cheating by filling a thermos with hot water the night before, but it still seems like an awfully long time before coffee can be made. A sign of addiction, I’m sure. After all, it’s not like we have to be at the office by 8:30 a.m.

It is a prelude to winter having the wood range back in use for preparing meals. Even though it is still August, that approaching season is already much on our minds.

Like the other animals, we are preoccupied with stockpiling food and supplies to last us into next summer. I wonder if they suffer from the same problems of self-discipline as I do?

A third of the chocolate that I had intended to be a winter treat has prematurely vanished into my mouth. I will have to replace this in the next few weeks and stash it as I usually do at the very back and bottom of the pantry, an out-of-sight, out-of-mind trick that works tolerably well — for a little while, at least.

Once we’re out of it, I don’t even spend more than an occasional wistful thought on it. Just keeping it around is hard to do.

Then there is the matter of books. We always get new ones over the summer that we carefully hoard to read on the long dark winter evenings.

With entertainment out here being of a rather limited variety, books are a vital ingredient to life in the bush and previously unread ones are in high demand. This also calls for self-restraint: leaving the fingers off the pages of books that are particularly interesting or that we searched a long time for is no small feat.

But really, more justice is done to them when they are read for hours at a time in that quiet of a winter evening when only the fire makes a sound every now and then.

I feel a bit like a junkie, constantly thinking of my craving for winter and the things that come with it, impatient t­o finally get my fix. We’re getting closer to it now, with having the wood cookstove back in service.

Two nights ago, I lit the kerosene lamp for the first time, which always seems like a symbolic act — the darkness is gaining. To tide me over the next weeks, I sacrificed another slab of chocolate (it wasn’t so hard to convince myself) and started re-reading  Anna Karenina.

With any luck, this might just about last me until the leaves begin to fall.

 Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.