Suddenly, Tater noticed something.

Almost forty years ago we bought a Vermont Castings wood stove and put it in the kitchen. Now it’s gone.

It’s done a great job for us. A lot of the time we didn’t turn on any other heat. Over the years, the house got bigger and bigger, but the wood stove meant that in the winter, the man, the woman, the dog, and the cat were always in such close proximity that a single small explosive device could take us all out at once.

Our dog Boomer was really fond of the wood stove. She would park herself a foot in front of it and stick one hind leg straight up in the air, exposing her, well, her highly personal region to the heat. She always kept her highly personal region very clean–gracious, how clean she kept it! She cleaned it and cleaned it and cleaned it; you never saw a dog so devoted to personal hygiene. Why does she do that, I’d ask Dave, and he’d say because she can. And then she’d air it out in front of the stove.

Things change. Forty years ago, I hung out in the liberry for months and researched efficiency and quality and ratings and requested mail brochures to find the very best wood stove at the very best price. We had fluff blown into our old walls and had storm windows made and caulked everything in sight but the dog’s highly personal region, and Dave and his brickie buddies put in a hearth and a chimney and installed the stove themselves.

This time, one of us mentioned that it might be a good idea to replace the old stove with a natural gas fake one. You know: some day. The next morning, Dave pantomimed standing in the kitchen and pushing an imaginary remote control button aimed at the stove: click. That afternoon, we Googled gas appliance retail outlets, picked one we could walk to, found a stove that looked okay, whipped out a VISA card, and started grousing about having to wait three weeks for installation. The guys are here today to install it. They’re taking away the old one. I feel like we’re abandoning an old friend. But I get over things like that fast. Especially if I have a remote control. Click.

The only downside is that Dave has devoted a lot of time since his retirement to looking in Dumpsters for dimensional lumber to scavenge for firewood. He’d haul it home in the pickup and saw it up and stack it. It’s a little hobby. And now that the wood stove is gone, his Dumpster-diving is just going to look sad.