The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

We’ve spent the past below-zero days sitting around St. Paul the Parlor Stove, which I dug out of the far dark corner of the pole shed this past fall.

There it had sat, ever since the pole shed collapsed on it from snow load four years ago in another shed. It broke one of its legs, but that wasn’t any problem at all. Before I go on with this tale, first let me list the things I’m not going to do again this coming year. (This is kind of an early New Year’s resolution list, in negative form. Kind of.)

I’m not going to ever sell the 12 cords of fire wood that I’d built up over the years and piled up in the end of a large pole shed, where it was nice and dry.

I’m not ever going to donate all my turtle neck sweaters to charity.

I”m not ever going to get caught with number two diesel fuel in my skid steer when winter comes. (Which turns into thick wax, you know.)

I’m not ever going to box up all my overshoes and stash them in the garage where they hid from me until just a few days ago.

I’m not ever going to take out the central wood furnace which I had strategically hooked into my ductwork, and which also heated potable water.

So there you have it, and the reasoning behind this list of negative resolutions? Our place in Florida was destroyed by Hurricane Ian. Hello, winter. Nice to see you again. (Really, I do really like winter. Well, if not like, it’s okay. Umm, not okay sometimes, just mostly.)

At least I didn’t get rid of St. Paul. We used him one winter when first we moved up here in 1973. Since then, he’s sat in a shed.

And he was tough enough to survive a building collapsing on him.

He’s no central furnace which heats the entire house, but he keeps the basement warm, which keeps the floors warm, which may not seem like much, but running around in your stockings when it’s 20 below outside is maybe not Florida, but is pretty nice.

St. Paul gets his name because he was made and sold by the Farwell Ozmun Kirk Company in the early 1900s. They were located in—you guessed it, St. Paul.

“What is all this gadgetry you’ve got attached to me?” St. Paul asked me the other day. He’s kind of grumpy with me because I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out how to set his draft openings. One day the wind blows and the chimney draws hard and sucks all the heat out of him; the next, the opposite, and I cannot get him to a nice temperature. It’s been a learning experience, I told him.

“Well,” he said, “at least I’m not stuck out there in that dangerous shed, waiting for it to collapse 20 tons of snow on me, and break my leg.”  Yeah, I told him, I do feel kind of bad about that, but once I get this humidifier set up on your hot plate, and this magnehelic vacuum gauge measuring chimney draw, you’ll perform better than any other pot belly stove around.

“Look!” he snapped at me. “I’d appreciate it if people would stop referring to me and my brothers and sisters as pot belly stoves.” He went on to say that he’s a proper parlor stove.

“You know we’re a higher class of stoves than those pot bellies are.”

Ah. Parlor stove class attitude. Who’d of thought of such a thing.

“And don’t get me started on double barrel stoves,” he said, inferring that they were likely the lowest class of wood heaters.

“I know that one of my relatives married into a family of double barrels,” he said. I don’t like to get him upset. He starts puffing out little smoke rings from a tiny inspection hole up on his top. Next thing you know, he starts to go out, and I have to rattle his grate to wake him up.

All in all, he’s a pretty good heater, though.

“And one more thing,” he said, as I was preparing to go back upstairs and work on this, “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t burn that corky Siberian Elm crap in me. I’m made for a better grade of wood, like ash or oak, you know.”

Okay, I told him. Glad to know that.

I’m not ever going to saw any more elm down.

Like I said, negative resolutions.