Wood burners are great, aren’t they?
After a long day, there’s nothing quite like flopping down in front of a cheery glow, watching the flames dance in intricate shapes while you sip a decent glass of red. Warmth radiates from the hearth and, while you wiggle your toes just a little nearer, the dog yawns and stretches luxuriously before settling again with a small sigh…
At least that’s the image most of us would have and it’s probably one the salesman would play on back in the UK where we already have central heating anyway. The thing is, in Turkey, most homes don’t have such luxuries. After all, it’s mostly blazing hot so why would you need to spend a fortune having a boiler and radiators installed, right?
Um … wrong.
Temperatures here this week have been below freezing more than once and, even when they haven’t, the sun has often been conspicuous by its absence. That means the log burner isn’t a luxury or an indulgence. It’s the most efficient and cheapest source of heat – but it also needs feeding. That means, as the summer season finishes in Kayaköy, the locals disappear into the woods with chainsaws.
At first, I quite liked the idea of self-sufficiency. We already had a huge pile of wood in the orchard so, rather romantically thinking of myself as Pa in Little House on The Prairie, I was looking forward to wielding a newly-acquired axe to cut it all to size. I reasoned that as long as I used dry days to wander down to the wood pile and chop enough for three or four nights, we’d be fine. There would be more than enough to last us through the worst of the winter.
It turns out I was wrong about that too.
I had no idea that a wood burner could have such a voracious appetite. Even before Christmas our stock was almost gone and I was wishing I’d used the warmer, drier weather in early October to head for the woods with everyone else. With no chainsaw of our own, we had to call in help.
“Yes. I fetch for you. How much you want?” asked our ever-helpful neighbour, Mehmet.
“Oh, I don’t know … As much as you can carry I suppose,” I replied, thinking he must know someone with a tractor and trailer.
Just two days later, I heard the toot of Mehmet’s scooter and, incredulously, watched him wobble down the drive with the first load of branches and small logs balanced between the fairing and seat.
“Er… thanks Mehmet, but I think I’ll be needing more than that,” I said, trying not to sound ungrateful.
“Yes, yes. I have more cut in woods. I bring it,” he said cheerily, disappearing after the few minutes it took to unload.
He was as good as his word too – even though he had to resort to the family car when the abused scooter’s drive shaft expired under the fourth load. Still, the replenished wood pile looked much healthier and I had no reason to doubt Mehmet’s assurance there would be enough to last a couple of months.
Turns out we were wrong about that too…
Just a fortnight later with the weather becoming increasingly hostile, we were getting dangerously close to the bottom of the pile again and I had to accept we were going to have to request a bulk delivery.
Reluctant to ask Mehmet to sacrifice another vehicle in the woods, we made the trip to Saffet’s place in nearby Hisarönu – a shop which not only seems to stock stuff impossible to find anywhere else but in numerous colours too.
“Yes, no problem… I can have a tonne delivered to your house; a mix of soft and hard wood,” Saffet confirmed. “You want it in bags?”
“No, that’s okay. Just get the guy to dump it on the drive. I’ll shift it under cover myself,” I said, still clinging to the Little House On The Prairie dream.
Three days later, after taking the delivery just as the light began to fade, I found myself moving a massive pile of logs from the drive to the lean-to next to the house by hand, in driving rain and gale-force winds in the dark…
Like I say, wood burners are great, aren’t they …?