2008 Comeback Stories: Wood stoves burn again


This post is part of our series on people, places and things finding new life in 2008.

It was the year 1999, and I was looking at homes in Northern Virginia. I knew what I wanted, and it had an actual wood-burning fire. We must have walked through dozens of condos, townhomes, and very small houses, and never once did I find the object of my heart's desire, though it seemed that every one had some sort of fireplace fake. People don't burn wood, silly! It's so messy.

Two years later, I had a new love and an old city. My family and I now live in a 1912 house with a hole in the kitchen where the wood cook stove once connected to the chimney. Every late summer, my boys help grandpa pile chopped wood under cover near my parents' house. When I hear horror stories on the BBC about disappearing fuel reserves and coming shortages, I can't help but feel smug about my possibilities. I tell my husband that we should follow my parents' lead and get a wood stove now, before the crisis comes and all the wood stove stores are fresh out.

Mom and Dad aren't the only modern family with a decidedly 19th-century woodpile. While only 2.1 million people in the U.S. heated their homes with wood in 2001, the last census data available, theNew York Times announces that Wood is Back! One Oregon stove retailer says sales are up 65% in just a year.

It may not be the cleanest-burning fuel, but it's cozy and comforting and renewable and way cheaper than oil or natural gas. 2008 may very well be the year I finally get my wood stove -- will you get yours, too?