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Jul
17

roasting on an open fire

I don’t know what the weather is where you live but where I’m at we’re in the middle of an ice storm. In a few hours I’m guessing that even the malls will be closed as the roads become too dangerous to venture out on. A perfect day to build a nice toasty fire.

When I was younger my Dad would always take a lot of pride in how he built the family fire and I guess it’s been passed down. I remember watching him carefully start with newspaper and kindling before adding the logs. “Always remember to let the fire breathe” he would tell me as he put 2 logs north/south and then another 2 on top of them east/west. Keep in mind this was before they had invented fire starters… for a fire to really catch back then you had to build a fundamentally sound foundation. These days all you need is the fire starter and a match and any fool can start a fire. That is, of course, no reason not to do things right.

My fireplace is relatively large and I can usually fit between 20-23 logs in it if I pack it right. I don’t usually like to have logs too far up the chimney so it takes awhile to fit them all in. This year it’s been particularly challenging because I changed where I bought my firewood from to save a few dollars and was rewarded by getting the shittiest wood I’ve ever seen. Instead of being cut in a roughly 6″ x 18″ normal fashion I ended up with a driveway full of misfit wood. L shapes and Y shapes and even a few T shaped pieces. It’s sort of like playing Tetris with splinters.

Anyway… after I’d crumbled up and placed the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday papers and a few handfuls of kindling I began packing the fireplace. I found that if I removed the metal thing that is supposed to hold the wood I can jam in another log. After finding the perfect spots for 4 fire starters it was time to light up!

I love the ‘whoosh’ of the fire when I first light it. The way all of the oxygen in the room is immediately used up and I have to gasp for air briefly followed by thick white smoke filling the entire house. The smell of burnt hair (mine and the dogs) and the cool relief a wet towel provides when applied to my face and arms. The cold icy tentacles of Jack Frost lurking outside be damned I say!

It doesn’t take long for the flames to start licking outside of the tight confines of the fireplace does it?! All cherry red and lemony yellow… with deep greens and purples adding to the fun as large embers fall onto the carpeting and quickly ignite. Soon a lively spray of sparks has the curtains alight and I’m once again searching for the extinguisher. Where did I put my little friend? It just doesn’t seem like a cozy winter day without the scent of carbon tetrachloride hanging in the air does it?

I’ve been at a friends’ house when he has mentioned his ‘roaring’ fire and I can only snicker to myself. Well I can tell by the commotion outside I’d better get some coffee on for the brave men of our local fire brigade. Seems my nosy neighbors have once again pushed the panic button a little early and sent the firefighters on another wasted trip to my house. Oh well… I always enjoy the company despite their petty comments regarding my fire-building skills. Until the next time… I’m off to draw on some new eyebrows and open the front door before they knock it down again.

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