A Fire. That entity, which when lit, searches outwards with warm fingers until it reaches the bunched up muscles residing deep within your chest, smoothing them out with gentle waves of heat. What is it about the presence of a wood burning stove that immediately makes everything significantly better?
During the winter, I would both wake up, and come home to a frigid ger. In the morning it was okay. I would race out of bed, make a fire, and escape back to my warm sleeping bag cocooned in blankets. Coming home from school was a different story. Around five o’clock, I would step in the icy cold landscape that served as my room and immediately strip out of my work clothes. Down to my long underwear, I would don on my “bad” jacket and quickly make a fire. It would take twenty to fifty minutes for my ger to warm up enough for me to take off my winter coat.
The first half hour was the worst. My ger, which was supposed to be a place of comfort and relaxation, turned into a dwelling of frozen water and tension. I would read and drink Swiss Miss, sitting in an armchair placed three feet away from my stove while my body greedily absorbed the slow release of heat. As my stove got hotter, my distance from the flames grew until the fire had chased away the last lingering patch of frosty air, turning the ger into my home once again. I could walk around without shivers racking my body, wash my hands without them turning blue and chill on my bed in a thin shirt and sweats. Life was good.
This winter, I discovered that the difference between a cold and warm ger is much more than a contrast of temperature. It is the difference between energy draining versus recharging, tension versus relaxation, and most importantly, a room versus a home.