I burned the woodstove briefly this morning just to take the chill off. By the time I got back from morning chicken chores it was already out and the iron was barely warm. And before I left I cut kindling for tomorrow morning’s fire the way I always do, just automatically, didn’t even give it any thought. I’ll lay the fire later in the day after the embers are mostly out.
Coming back in to the warmish cabin with my fingers tingling, I glanced at the little pile(s) of wood, noticing that Precaffeinated Joel had divided the kindling slices into four distinct sections on autopilot, because I always lay my morning fire exactly the same way every morning and that way requires four distinct sorts of kindling.
And no, I won’t presume to hold a Kindling 101 tutorial because there are as many ways to successfully start a fire as there are people who do so. The only thing you learn after the hundredth or so time you try to light a fire while shivering in the dark is that haphazardly piling up some wood and striking a match won’t get you there, and neither will a paper-fueled flare. Between those extremes are many, many effective solutions to the problem of pursuading the fire to take care of itself while you brew coffee.
And after many years now, going through who knows how many gizmos and gadgets and improvisations, I finally settled on what worked for me and I’ve been doing it so long now I can just let my fingers do the working while my mind is somewhere else entirely.
Now for a word from a true professional…