The Heart of the Home

I am now the proud owner of an antique Enterprise stove (thanks Sherry and Bob)!  For those of you reading this who are not from Newfoundland, you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal about an Enterprise stove?”  However, those of you who grew up in Newfoundland (before the 1980’s when things went modern) are probably thinking, “Ya lucky bastard!  How did you get your hands on that?”

stove 1

Growing up in outport Newfoundland, wood and oil stoves such as these were the very heart of the home.  One of my earliest memories is of waking on cold winter mornings, with at least 2 of my sisters in the bed with me, to the sound of Dad starting the stove to heat the house before we got up.  Soon we would hear the crackling of burning wood and the heat would fill the house, slowly erasing the magical patterns that Jack Frost had painted on our windows overnight.   My sisters and I would make our way to the kitchen where mom would be making home-made bread toast, using a grill placed directly on top of the stove.  Stacks of this delicious toast, saturated with Eversweet margarine, would be placed at the back of the stove to keep warm, along with a pot of hot, sweet, Tetley Tea.  Toast and tea was the traditional breakfast of outport Newfoundland, sometimes with a bit of molasses or blueberry jam to sweeten the toast. 

Although the stove was run by both oil and wood, oil was considered “dear” (meaning expensive), while wood was practically free.  On crisp, white winter mornings, the ringing of the horse’s bells would break the silence of the harbour, as they headed out, sleigh in tow, for a load of wood to fuel the stove. 

Since the stove was used to both heat the house and cook the food, the temperature in the house was often determined by what was being cooked.  On bread baking days, the house was at its warmest.  There is nothing that can compare to the comforting smell of mom’s freshly baked bread taken from the oven of the old wood stove.  My favorite part of the bread was the “heel” or end piece.  My mom complained that taking the heel when the bread was still hot would dry it out.  But I simply could not resist this crunchy treat with melted butter and molasses……and of course a cup of tea.

stove 5

This stove, belonging to Mrs. Sarah Edwards of my hometown, Lawn, Newfoundland, is no longer in use, but still holds a special place in the home.

The stove is where we gathered on long winter evenings to listen to stories of ghosts and fairies from our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  My Grandmother Kearney, who is still “smart as a top” at 93 years old, is a skilled story teller.  Although I lived right next door, that run to my house at night seemed a long and scary one after listening to Nan tell stories of children who were taken by the fairies, never to be seen again. 

stove 6This stove is in the home of the late Steve and Mary Edwards of Lawn.

 My favorite memory of the old stove, is coming home, feet frozen after an evening of sledding down the hill by my house with my sisters and cousins.  My woolen mittens, knit by my Nan with “real wool”, would be knobby with little snowballs.  It was a pleasure to beat them out on top of the stove to dry them, and watch the water droplets dance across the top of the hot stove.  Best of all, was opening the oven door to stick my cold feet inside and warm up, while having a “mug up”.   Mug up is the Newfoundland word for snack, and the traditional mug up before bed was……..you guessed it….toast and tea. 

 

stove4Stephanie Jarvis warming her feet  by the wood stove, in Lawn, NL

This stove is my retirement gift to me.  In five years, God willing, I will retire from my work as an Educational Psychologist.  A dream that I share with my partner, Steve, is to have a cottage on the water where we will indulge in our passion for writing.  We are not sure where this cottage will be located…..it may be in Lewin’s Cove, Newfoundland, or at the other end of the country, on Gabriola Island, British Columbia.  Where ever it is located, you can be sure that my old stove will be the heart of this home.   It is here that I will sit with my feet in the oven, while my rose tea pot simmers on the back of the stove, and I will write my stories.   When I am blessed with grandchildren of my own, I will scare them with stories of ghosts and fairies, while gathered around my old wood stove, eating toast and drinking tea. 

stove3

This stove still stands at the family home of the late Adolf and Evelyn Jarvis, of  Lawn.

 

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8 thoughts on “The Heart of the Home

  1. Oh Florence, I love what you wrote and it really hits home for me. I am retired from my job(s) as a Social Worker and a Interior Designer and doing just what you are wishing for : looking for a cottage on the water to enjoy the rest of our retirement years. I hope we are successful in realizing our dream, and I know you will be ! God Bless.

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