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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Monday, November 9, 2009


After seventeen days (and two hours) away from Maine (but who's counting?), you walk in the house and smell the stale odor of old ashes. It's not a bad smell. It's just a greeting from the woodstove: "Why haven't you been here for so long, I'm just sitting here in the corner full of ashes until you get back and get that real woodsmoke smell going." So, obediently, the first thing you do after putting away the groceries is to start a fire. You get it going, and the smell turns from stale to wonderful, and you go out for a walk before the darkness falls at 4:30.

Your goal for the week is not to turn the thermostat past its minimal setting. This should not be difficult, with the current mild weather, although night-time frost is forecast for later in the week. Your neighbors usually have their stoves going at this time of the year, providing a homey scent to your walks, but today's weather must be too warm to waste the wood. Not a concern for you: you have stacks of split wood from all the trees that fell last winter, and stacks more to split, you need to feel you're circumventing the oil cartels Arab and Texan, you must have that tang of smoke in your nose, even though it makes you sneeze.

You come back in from the walk down Ash Point. The fire is still burning brightly, and after a few minutes, your lungs are used to the insult of its particulates, and the smell of woodsmoke is engrained and enmeshed in your clothes and your being, and you don't smell it anymore, and you are home in Maine.

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