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  • Mj Pettengill

An Avenging Spirit


Kitchen Cookstove, Mj Pettengill
Kitchen Cookstove, Mj Pettengill

At first, I thought it was a dream—the howling and rising pitch of the wind. Like an avenging spirit, it screeched over the rolling hills, bending trees, snapping branches, and whipping snow into drifts across the road. I pulled my quilt up under my chin and squeezed my eyes shut. Sleep was the answer. Maybe. I paused when I realized that none of the usual sounds, driven by electricity, were present. I peeked out at where the digital clock light would be. Yes, the power was out. I had to rise and fire up the woodstove. It’s usually the primary source of heat and used for cooking, but during the winter of my healing, I have relied on the furnace more than before. Within minutes, I created a roaring fire. I gave thanks for all of the times in the past that I built a fire without kindling. There’s an art to it, you know. I usually build a perfect fire according to all of the rules, but again, I didn’t want to dash here and there to gather kindling during the winter of my healing. In other words, on the surface, it might seem that I was unprepared, but not really. I just chose to work with what I had on hand. There was plenty of wood stacked beside the stove. It worked out fine. As I sat there, warming my hands by the stove and thinking about making coffee, I gave thanks for the many years that I have been a keeper of the hearth. It is an essential part of our being. This is not only for the obvious purpose of warmth and cooking, which cannot be underestimated. This is also vital in keeping a family and villages intact. When we have and maintain a center for gathering—for heat, cooking, and light—we sustain a healthy bond. Not including the wind chill factor, it is 6 degrees F. I have less than 11% battery to work with on my computer. Therefore, I will conclude this essay. I am aware that the earliest that the power is to be restored will be tonight. In the meantime, the home fires are burning. I have bread baking in the cookstove, in what was—just a few hours before—a comfortless room. The coffee is strong. Faith and hope have taken possession of my heart as I leave you to put another log on the fire.