Monday, October 25, 2010

Fire in Stove

It takes a whole season to prepare and gather a wood supply to heat one's house in wintertime. In fact, with wood needing to dry for a year or more, you could say it takes even longer.

But when the temperatures drop, the air gets damp, and the house ceases to be the warm haven it has been in early fall, I always look forward to getting the wood stove fired up. That said, I always try to put off the first fire too. No need to waste our wood, right?

Finally, though, temperatures drop into the thirties and forties and frost covers the lawn every morning for weeks. It's time. I cut the kindling; I ball up newpaper. The long, straight chimney draws the smoke up above, and the wood crackles. Suddenly, we forget all rooms of the house except the front room with the stove. The flames dancing inside the glass doors are more captivating than television, and the non-stove areas of the house resign themselves to a winter season of neglect.

Heating with wood is a dirty, troublesome task that is ongoing throughout the year. But once we light the first fire, I forget the difficulties and enjoy the warm dry heat that a wood fire provides.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Alison Aiken is headed to Boston! That's right... last Sunday she achieved the impossible; in the first-ever Smuttynose Marathon along the seacoast in Hampton, New Hampshire, she ran a Boston-qualifying time of 3:44:20. Yayyy, Alison! What made the accomplishment even more special was the fact that Ali's training partner Kristen Courcelle was also on-hand at Smuttynose. The two runners, determined to qualify, ran in several triathlons and foot-races this summer, and they did speedwork together too -- often in hurricane-like and rainy conditions. But regardless of weather, they never bagged out of a workout. The result: Kristen also qualified with over a minute to spare. Both of them ran strategically perfect races and remembered their rainy sprint workouts in the final miles. There were never two more deserving qualifiers!

Big congratulations also go out to Marty Courcelle, Newton Baker, and Mark Aiken, who ran strong marathons and to Heather Jarochym who kicked rear-end in her first-ever half-marathon.

All in all, it was a beautiful day in which many accomplishments were made and many goals achieved. And that's what recreational running is all about.

**Note: you will notice the sleeve-like things hanging off Alison's waist (directly under her race number) in the photo; these arm warmers were cut out of an old pair of ski socks and were meant to be "throw-aways" once she warmed up as the race got underway. But not Alison. She carried the old socks for 25 miles, and she will have them for the next race she runs... and probably the one after that and the one after that.