Los vientos de diciembre habían hecho blow away las pocas hojas that had been left on the apple tree que estaba en la front yard. Ahora only unas pocas de shriveled, old manzanas still clung to the árboles for dear life. The leaves were on the floor por toda la yarda.

Ya se estaba acercando más y más el tiempo de Crismes and Canutito was all excited. Both he and grampo were outside metiendo leña pa’l portal. They had to bring in plenty of firewood porque it seemed como que iba a ser un very cold winter. As they were stacking la leña in the porch, Canutito turned to grampo and he asked: “Grampo, how did people heat las casas cuando no tenían firewood?”

“Ay, m’hijo,” grampo said, “it wasn’t much easy para ellos. En los días de más antes, habían muchos cowboys que vivían allá afuera con sus vacas. Cuando venía el tiempo frío they would gather up las old cow patties y las quemaban.”

“Really, grampo?” Canutito asked him. “Did los vaqueros actually gather up las buñigas viejas de las vacas and burn them out in the plain?

“Oh sí, m’hijo,” Grampo Caralampio replied. “Los natural methane gases de las cow patties would catch fire bien pronto and the vaqueros didn’t even have to usar kerosene oil to start them. Incidentally, in English the fancy word para un cowboy es ‘buckaroo’ and it comes de la Spanish word ‘vaquero’ para la misma cosa.”

“What if people needed algo to burn con las buñigas de vaca, grampo?” Canutito asked.

Entonces they would burn small wood chips called ‘cuipas’ or ‘palitos,’ ” he said.

Las cow patties must have smelled real awful mientras que se quemaban,” Canutito remarked. “Did the people use otras cosas también cuando no habían cow patties?”

“Sí, m’hijo,” grampo said. “Sometimes la gente would go into the foothills a pepenar piñas para quemar.”

“Did the pine cones have to be secas para poder quemarse, grampo?” Canutito asked.

“Sí, m’hijo,” grampo said. “Once que las piñas fell off de los pine trees, they were ready to burn. A veces la gente might even sprinkle them con cinnamon oil o con espíritus de poleo,” grampo said as he finished stacking la leña en el portal.

“Yo sé what cinnamon oil is,” Canutito hesitated, “pero ¿qué son ‘espíritus de poleo?’ ”

“Los ‘espíritus de poleo, m’hijo,” grampo said, “were smelling salts que la gente usaba to revive a una persona who might faint. Era oil of peppermint y de una vez los recordaba de su desmalle and they would sit up right away.”

Canutito finished stacking su leña en el portal también. He thought que it was a lot of work de estar traer y traer firewood into the house. It would be so much easier si tenía dried cow patties or pine cones con aceite de canela o espíritus de poleo sprinkled on them.

De repente tuvo una great idea: He went out into the fields y allí en las tiras he found un bonche de buñigas secas de vaca lying about por doquiera. Then he went over to la sierrita dónde habían muchos pinos and he picked an armload de piñas secas. He went and put las buñigas de vaca into the kitchen stove y luego echo los pine cones over them and he covered todo con aceite de cinnamon and spirits of peppermint.

Ahora we can keep warm sin tener que estar traendo leña,” he said to himself.

Después de unos minutos Grama Cuca came into la cocina sniffing about toda disgusted. “What smells como cinnamon y minty-fresh caca de vaca?” she asked.

Canutito nomás hizo look out the window pretending que no sabía nada

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