Late one evening over the holidays, I received a call from a nice woman from Massachusetts who had read about us in Yankee Magazine. She was enamored with the concept of heating her small cottage with a Russian fireplace. It would be the heart of her small 800 square foot rustic retreat in the Berkshires. It was a pleasant conversation, and a wonderful surprise to hear about the write-up. In the mail the next day, we received a copy of the Jan/Feb 2011 issue, compliments of the managing editor.
Inside we found a short piece about the article, “What’s So Hot About a Russian Fireplace” which was featured in Yankee Magazine back in 1978. A story that, three decades ago, mentioned our very own Albie Barden, and his work designing and building these remarkable sources of heat throughout the world.
In a brief paragraph, Russian fireplaces are described by their highly efficient combustion, and traditional design concept that Albie, Cheryl and Scott have spent their lives studying and sharing with others. I especially enjoyed the mention of a Finnish immigrant living in Maine back in the 40’s who built his Finnish fireplace with fieldstone collected from his own land, a technique Albie recommends to many of his clients who have access to such a valuable natural resource. Albie met this man, Sam Jaakkola and saw two of Sam’s stone masonry heaters. Albie commented on Sam’s heaters in his very first Masonry Stove Guild Newsletter, dated March 2, 1978. Both Sam Jaakkola and Basilio Lepushenko were extremely helpful to Albie in getting his start in masonry heaters.
It was a timely article that, despite the busyness of holidays, made me stop and think. During a time of year that revolves so much around change – the change of season, the shorter days and colder nights, the New Year, a time when we feel the pressure to change even ourselves, declaring resolutions to live better, and be better – it’s certainly nice to sit back, slow down and appreciate the steadfast traditions our unique cultures and families have held true. For us, it’s as simple as enjoying the gentle sound of a crackling fire, the mesmerizing dance of its flames, the woodsy aroma, and the gentle radiant warmth of the masonry heaters that envelopes us with a sense of serenity, and comfort, and the feeling of being home.
All of us here at Maine Wood Heat Co. hope you and your families are together and keeping warm this season, and wish you all a joyful and prosperous New Year.