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    Al the Wood Man Cometh

    You guys, we’re in March. You know what that means, don’t you? We’re finally in the home stretch of winter. I’m not going to Florida this year, so like the rest of us, I’m anxiously awaiting spring.

    And what a winter it’s been. I think we burnt more wood than in any other year. The house is literally surrounded by a wall of snow. Lucky for us, we have an excellent supplier of fire wood.

    His name is Al Gessinger, and he wears many hats. Al runs the Arctic Circle cross country ski center, teaches art at our local community college and tends bar at Rainbow Restaurant in Johnstown, New York. All that, and he cuts, splits delivers and stacks our firewood. Oh yeah, and he plows snow as well. Talk about a split personality. Or at the very least, someone who’s greatly in need of a good night’s sleep.

    Now, we notify Al of our need for more wood through his and our friend Barb, via email. I wonder how many people in this county order firewood via email? I think it’s pretty neat.

    I know I’ve only been here for about eight winters, but this seems like one of the coldest ever. Hence the need for all the wood.

    I’m relatively new to wood heat. But, like so many that are used to it, I’m now fond of saying, “There’s nothing like wood heat.” And in truth there’s not. Our main source of heat is a gas fireplace with a visible flame. We got the wood stove for supplemental heat. But in a winter such as this has been, the wood heat is almost primary. And there’s really nothing like sitting in front of an open fire.

    This was perhaps my favorite thing when I used to downhill ski. Sitting in the lodge in front of a roaring fire. Some would say, “Isn’t a wood fire a lot of work? You constantly have to poke and prod to get it just right.” But that’s the charm of it. It’s always changing and you can shape the size and type of flame you get.

    When Herman’s off at work all day, my aide Terry tends to the fire. And she’s really good at it. I’ve learned that there’s more than one way to build a fire and tend a fire. Herman and Terry each have there own ways of doing this. I’m not saying that one is better than the other, but they do differ.

    Terry is much more apt to make a fire that is visually beautiful, whereas Herman focuses more on function. But as I said before, one is not better than the other. I focus on sitting in front of the open stove and soaking it in. When I can’t soak in the sun, I can bask in the fire.

    "Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake here in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com"