Friday Morning at Fifteen Below...

....and no wind right now, which makes it feel quite nice out there! I rolled out of bed before sunrise, and got about fifty layers on. My first mission this morning was to go out and light the bread oven. In case I haven't mentioned it already, it's Winter Tracks time here on the trail, and we are making pizza today.

Of course, in true Heston's style, we weren't quite totally organized at 6:30 am. As I was pulling on my boots, Greg said something about the new roof on the bread oven, the incomplete chimney system, and how we probably should have shoveled it off yesterday, as the hole for the smoke to draw was completely covered. Hmmm, I was trying to process all of this without having had any coffee yet. I realized that this meant that I would be shoveling the roof before I was even starting the fire.

I'm not fond of ladders, especially when I have bulky clothes on. But when I stepped out, and the early morning light was gathering in its beautiful pastel palette, I couldn't help but feel happy. It looks like it will be a fantastic day. I went digging for the ladder, put it up against the roof, and climbed up with my shovel. Slowly I pulled snow off the roof in the vicinity of the chimney spot. Mostly I did it slowly because no matter how I tried, each scoopful would fall right down on me, not the ground. What a sight! Good thing the guests were all still sleeping, instead of watching me. I worked on it enough to get a little hole open, and thought it would be just right to let the smoke escape.

Next I got the fire started, which is a bit of a trick at this time of the year. It takes a lot of birch bark, even if the kindling and wood is very dry. Pretty soon, though, that smoke was sneaking out of the little hole on top, so I knew that it was going to work out. I paused a moment to listen to the birds, who are getting to be very vocal right now. I think they know that we are nearing the change of season, and they want to let everyone else know, too. I filled the bird feeder up for them, and saw several little puffs of redpoll, all fluffed up in a tree waiting for me to finish.

Then I noticed some ravens circling, and I could hear their conversation, too. Since I have yet to learn ravenspeak, I chose to walk down to the lake shore, in case they were talking about a deer kill on the ice, or some other interesting thing. No sign of activity down there, but plenty of fresh wolf tracks all over the place. I saw more birds in the sky downshore a bit, so I am guessing that there might be a fresh kill over near our rustic cabins.

So now since I've started this writing, it's time to go stoke that bread oven again, and try to get the temperature in those fire bricks to about 500 degrees. What a climb from fifteen below. Greg got a laser temperature reader, so we will test it out on the bread oven for the first time today. We will finally know how hot it is in the oven when we bake. But at this air temp, I don't think we will have to worry about burning anything.