A fire in Vermont

by cheri sabraw


The rain has been good to Northern California

The propane delivery truck bellowed down our driveway last month, its brakes barking like a sea lion.

I peeked through the wooden shutters in my closet window. A familiar scene, one that I have watched every couple of months for 25 years, unfolded mechanically: The operator Sergio found the thick hose, pulled out yank by yank, and stretched it to our blue propane tank, across our  lawn mottled by gophers and over a rock wall until finally, hose and tank coupled in a gaseous ecstasy.

The momentary high left inertly when Sergio wrapped the bill around our door knob, hoisted himself back inside the truck, which  belched  up the driveway.

In my closet, I finished dressing for the day and trundled downstairs to the coffee pot.

Oh yes, I thought. That propane bill. I must retrieve it before the wind blows it into the creek.

When I opened the bill, and saw what two months of propane cost, I had a brief moment of breathlessness myself.

Either a gallon of propane has gone up in price or I have used too much. Reluctantly, I accepted the latter and at that moment vowed to reduce hot water and heat usage.

To that end, I have been making my own fires in our wood-burning stove, whom I will call Vermont.

Today, when the weather changed again, I made another fire, an inferno in Vermont, who complained a bit by rattling when I threw more kindling in her belly.


The deer abound

I love the smell of oak burning in Vermont and the warmth that a fire provides. And I love the fact that I am not using propane.IMG_3870

The birds wait for foliage


About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in My photography, Nature photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to A fire in Vermont

  1. Richard says:

    Fly yet living spark,
    Bright embers fill the grate,
    For the World is not so stark.

    Soft comfort warms the dark,
    Though wind may crash the gate,
    Fly yet living spark.

    Kiss so to press a gentler mark,
    Friends are not gone – they wait,
    For the World is not so stark.

    I bend my ear and hark,
    No hunger is innate,
    Fly yet living spark.

    There is singing and the lark,
    The lane’s both curved and straight,
    For the World is not so stark.

    See the rill-licked willow bark,
    At the water, as of late,
    And the round ripple-arc,
    For the World is not so stark.

    • Cheri says:

      What a marvelous villanelle, Richard and comforting, too. Let’s focus on the lark rather than the stark. Thank you for contributing to this post in a most delightful way.

      • Richard says:

        Almost a villanelle. Not the prescribed couplet, but I couldn’t resist the second-to-last line all those years ago instead of the first refrain.

        Certainly, the world is not stark. Only people see it so – as I had to tell myself.

        Why Vermont, so far from Ca. (for an inhabitant of a small island.)?

  2. shoreacres says:

    I love that you’ve named your wood-burning stove. “Vermont” is perfect. Granted, your plaid shirts might need to be a lighter cotton than flannel, but on the other hand, if you need a fire, flannel might do. That photo of the birds is splendid. Our grackles are back, and courting has begun in earnest. Soon, the sun will be at summer strength, and we won’t need a fire at all.

    • Cheri says:

      Thank you, Linda. This morning, we were awakened with the biggest turkey racket in a long long time. It’s mating season. The males are out of control. The noise began well before the sun arose. Here’s to Vermont!

  3. wkkortas says:

    I always thought that was the B-side of “Moonlight In Vermont”.

  4. Lue Perrine says:

    Sounds warm & cozy and wonderful Cheri (better than 💰gas).
    Gees has it been that long! ⏳
    I love our beautiful green hills here
    too. We are blessed for sure!
    Sweet bird photo! 🦜

    • Cheri says:

      I understand our pilot and his family are going to be visiting for a week in May. Is that correct?
      Let’s have a BBQ up here! That way, I can see you, your son and family, and I can get a real hug.

  5. Carol McCann says:

    The propane delivery brings back childhood memories as we also used propane to heat the farmhouse. I remember the delivery man would let some of the propane into the air as he disconnected the hose, I thought that the fire breathing dragon was really neat. Of course the breath was cold and not hot.
    I also remember the year when we were living in Fremont that PG and E changed our gas meter. as they thought we had done something to cause it to not work properly. We started using our wood stove every day and our gas consumption diminished greatly. In fact, they changed it twice but they never said a word to us. We thought that the situation was funny. We were getting oak wood from the Sacramento Valley where my parents lived.
    Is your wood stove from Vermont Castings?

    • Cheri says:

      Hello dear Carol!
      So great to hear from you again.
      Great story about PGE and your revolt over the charges. After the fires throughout the state over the last several years, PGE has declared bankruptcy. We, the customer, will be footing that charge. Our little Vermont was made there. Where she is made from Vermont Castings I do not know. She is an “Intrepid.” Now in the Bay Area, and maybe all of California, you cannot buy one. Wood burning fires are for the most part, not allowed! Thankfully we have two fireplaces and with the many branches and sadly, one huge oak tree that went down, we have enough wood for years. Hope to see you again this summer!

  6. 4brig says:

    I can feel the pain from the gas bill, when we had a large tank we put the billing on a monthly basis so we didn’t have to take such a big hit all at once.
    What a fun idea to name your wood stove “Vermont”.

  7. Jim Block says:

    You had me at “red balls” hanging from my neck…great writing. Very witty.

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