As do most of us, we get a little bored watching the scenery go by as we keep a sharp lookout for errant deer, errant drivers and those lines we drive between. Isn’t it absurd that the only thing keeping all of us from collisions is paint. Headlights help a lot, but mostly to see the lines of paint. The game gets a bit challenging when there is snow and ice covering the lines. It really does feel like a video game, driving at speed.
Back to the scenery. One cold day, Jack was motoring south and at that time, he was counting chimneys and the wood smoke. Quite a few modern setups with wood boilers in the back yard were seen. It’s a good thing that windows are closed in the winter at the boiler homes. High barometric pressure or temperature inversions can cause some of those homes to almost disappear in a wreath of smoke.
There were quite a few homes that had masonry chimneys visible and some of them were in use as Jack motored by. There were a few of the old masonry chimneys that had shiny pipes coming out of them. An obvious concession to modern fuel of petroleum base. However, when Jack crossed Highway 8, the wood smoke was gone from the homes. Almost every roof top chimney seen had the propane exhaust pipe sticking out of it.
Putting the exhaust pipe from the propane furnace out of the chimney seemed logical to Jack. How else to do it? There are possibilities of wall ‘thimbles’ that can allow the venting but the easiest route is the old chimney. It seemed a bit sad to Jack to see the wood heat (or fireplaces) supplanted by a digitally controlled furnace connected to city gas lines or the ‘big boy‘ propane bombs in the backyard.
Jack was one year old when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, it was nicknamed the Big Boy. Jack was exactly one year old when that happened. What a birthday candle. But, it brought Jack’s dad home. And a lot of other dad’s too. War is like that. Some dad’s come home, some don’t.
Back to the chimneys. Jack noticed wood heat at quite a few of the homes he drove by on his way down to merge onto another highway that begins at Highway 8. There were quite a few homes and business’ visible from the next highway going south. No wood smoke, no piles of wood and not even any outdoor wood boilers. Every chimney Jack saw had the ridiculous metal pipe sticking out of it. A periscope that was looking at progress coming with a petroleum based civilization. Jack wondered if Dr. Suess would be interested in a book about it. “Why was the chimney there and why was it lifted and taken somewhere?”
There is a saying of sorts that living is more real north of 8 I don’t know if that carries much weight and if living there is really that great (back to the Lorax) But there is a subtle difference the further north of 8 you go. Longer driveways, more barns and cows and horses and more wood smoke and real chimneys that survived the propane efficiency movement. More crumpled seed hats and the pickups are not quite as pristine either. Towns that you can walk through the main street in about five minutes. We do have some modern concessions though. There are sidewalks and some folks even have paved driveways. Now and then milk can be dipped out of the bulk tank too.
Lots of cords of wood stacked (new comers stack between trees) Big logs, split stacks and wood sheds. It’s a mess heating with a stove in the house, but nothing beats standing in front of a well built fire when it’s below zero outside. The cat water bowl froze to the kitchen floor at Jack’s house about forty six years ago. Jack now has insulation and a better wood stove. Life is different north of 8. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator