Sunday, December 13, 2009

“Come Warm Yourself by the …Woodstove ….”

How inviting is an open fire, burning gaily in a fireplace, below a mantle decorated with Christmas cards and holiday greenery? Imagine taking a walk through Wellfleet – not long, because it’s much too cold these days – crossing Uncle Tim’s Bridge and returning to sit by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. Seagull Cottage guests enjoy this experience since there's a working fireplace in our cottage. Did you know my parents could make fires in the main house, too? I loved the rare occasions when I was able to visit in fall because they always had a roaring fire going. Then a chimney sweep warned the ancient mortar needed repair, and the chimney should not be used until this task was accomplished. So, for a dozen years our glorious corbelled chimney has served mainly as a conversation piece when folks climb the blue stairs and run their hands along the bricks with admiration, as if touching history itself.

After Sven and I moved to Wellfleet in 1998, we inquired about a process called Supaflu that brings new life to old chimneys. Let’s have Scott Gibson at explain how it works: “A flexible bladder is fed into the chimney and inflated. Grout is poured in around it. In about a day, the mixture cures and the bladder can be deflated and removed.” I’m afraid the $10,000 plus price tag put an end to that idea. But, what we really wanted was the warmth and the comfort a fire brings. After some thought we decided on second best. A woodstove!

This fall a friend had recommended Mike Travers, Highland Chimney Sweep, for the fireplace in the cottage. After Mike had swept the chimney, we asked about a metal insert that would allow us to install a woodstove in the main house. He checked out the old chimney and pronounced the feat doable. Mike is a charming man who works with his son and a mason. It took two months to get everything together. First the top of the chimney was removed. Three rounds of bricks needed replacement. Here’s the coiled insert before being unwrapped and the metal crown that was custom-made for this particular chimney. For several weeks there has been scaffolding on the side of the house to allow access. The job was finished last week. We chose a clean burning Jotul and are quite amazed with how efficient it is in heating the house. Now we can invite people in over the holiday and say, “Come warm yourself by the woodstove ….”