Burning Bright

In just a few days, we’ve gone from long warm autumn to a seasonal chill. The wood stove is lit, and I’ve filled it with snags of cherry – the knotty bits and pieces that are the butt end of our cherry firewood. Cherry is not our usual fuel. However, this year almost a cord and half of it were delivered. We usually receive oak, maple, and ash. Cherry heats well, and I get to pick through for spoon and bowl wood.
Those knotty snags have lots of BTUs to release and warm the house quickly. On occasion, I find a hunk too good for the stove and put it aside for a carved bowl. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen all that often because cherry is an eccentric wood to dry. It seems to have a lot of tension built in it, so a gorgeous plank can turn into fragments if not carefully handled. This is why much lovely cherry planking is not air-dried but dried in a kiln where conditions are controlled.

The other evening I glanced into the stove and observed several half-burned snags displaying this growth ring pattern that sprung open as the wood burned. Cherry is my favorite wood for spoons, bowls, boat portraits, and many small carvings. It has a delicacy of pattern in grain and a wide variation in color that I particularly admire. But for the first time, I noticed that it still displayed some patterning as it burned.