I'm pretty sure this is the best New York Times story I've ever read. It begins:
OSLO — The TV program, on the topic of firewood, consisted mostly of people in parkas chatting and chopping in the woods and then eight hours of a fire burning in a fireplace. Yet no sooner had it begun, on prime time on Friday night, than the angry responses came pouring in.
“We received about 60 text messages from people complaining about the stacking in the program,” said Lars Mytting, whose best-selling book “Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood — and the Soul of Wood-Burning” inspired the broadcast. “Fifty percent complained that the bark was facing up, and the rest complained that the bark was facing down.”
He explained, “One thing that really divides Norway is bark.”
One thing that does not divide Norway, apparently, is its love of discussing Norwegian wood. Nearly a million people, or 20 percent of the population, tuned in at some point to the program, which was shown on the state broadcaster, NRK.
In a country where 1.2 million households have fireplaces or wood stoves, said Rune Moeklebust, NRK’s head of programs in the west coast city of Bergen, the subject naturally lends itself to television.
“My first thought was, ‘Well, why not make a TV series about firewood?’” Mr. Moeklebust said in an interview. “And that eventually cut down to a 12-hour show, with four hours of ordinary produced television, and then eight hours of showing a fireplace live.”
But the best lines are from the viewer responses:
For most of the time, the only sound came from the fire. Ms. Hatlevoll’s face never appeared on screen, but occasionally her hands could be seen putting logs in the fireplace, or cooking sausages and marshmallows on sticks.
“I couldn’t go to bed because I was so excited,” a viewer called niesa36 said on the Dagbladet newspaper Web site. “When will they add new logs? Just before I managed to tear myself away, they must have opened the flue a little, because just then the flames shot a little higher.
“I’m not being ironic,” the viewer continued. “For some reason, this broadcast was very calming and very exciting at the same time.”
To be fair, the program was not universally acclaimed. On Twitter, a viewer named Andre Ulveseter said: “Went to throw a log on the fire, got mixed up, and smashed it right into the TV.”
Isn't it true, though, that there is something about heating a home with firewood? It's how we heated our home in Colorado when I was growing up. We'd spend a great deal of time cutting down trees, chopping up the wood, stacking it into cords, and hauling it into the house for fuel.
My brother and I once worked for the mean husband of a terribly kind member of our congregation. He was extremely precise about different types of cords and he was just awful to us -- but he also would have loved this show.