Despite the activities of harvesting, canning and kindling, I find myself with my woolens still packed in the winter box in the work shop loft during our first snow, multiple cloudy days and freezing night temperatures. It’s genetic! I was raised in the south and I resist all signs of winter! Well she got my attention this year. The first fire of the season in the wood stove resulted in a call to Dixon’s finest volunteer fire dept. The stove was cleaned at the end of last season, but I saw sparks through the toono (clear top). I went outside and could not see any signs of smoke or fire and I did not smell anything. I kept looking up at the clear vinyl top and thinking "was the plastic that dark" I swear it was getting darker. I live off grid and it was night by that time. My cat Noche started going insane with meowing and that was enough for. The fire departement arrived and wood stove fire was put out but nothing else was obvious. It was still warm enough for me to snuggle in for the night. The morning was very cold and I had to run to Taos for a meeting. The whole day I was stressed over getting home and assessing the cover and wood stove. My marvelous friends agreed to come on short notice a couple of hours before dark. The wood stove was cleaned again...that was not the problem. We removed the vinyl cover an it was definitely burnt. I had opted not to replace it and I had already purchased a heavy duty cover for the winter. The vinyl did not last long in this climate and it was not cheap. I really do not want to add a large piece of plastic to the landfill each year. We used the vinyl cover as a template to create a place for the chimney in the new cover. We removed the fire proof chimney sleeve and added it to the new cover. We put the new cover on and started a fire. All seemed to be fine. One problem...it was pitch black with no light from the moon. I was warm through the night and no more fire concerns. The dark was another matter. That is another post.