Monday, December 03, 2007

a place for fire

one last log

This past weekend, we procured some free, dry wood and embarked on an experiment to find out if we could keep our little house warm in case of a winter storm power outage. And we discovered that we can, indeed, keep it warm. Plenty warm. Maybe too warm, if the naked baby and tanktop-clad girl and discarded pants and sweaters by the hearth were any indication. I don't exactly wish for a power loss. Not all in my vicinity are so lucky to have an alternate heat source. But I must admit that every time the lights flickered, I got a little hopeful thrill. So my wish would be for a fifteen minute power loss. Just long enough to light candles and pile on blankets by the fire. Just long enough for the children to feel (and see and hear) that spooky wonderfulness that comes from a sudden and surprising lack of electricity. Just long enough for it to be exciting, without dealing with any of the logistics of meal prep or bathing. I mentioned all of this to the husband and he said, "so let's do it. we'll switch the breaker and black out the house and it'll be fun." And maybe we will. I told him to wait, maybe it'll happen on its own. The worst of the wind was still to come and it's been blowing strongly all day. Maybe some tenuous tree branch nearby will fall and we'll get a quick, dark thrill after all. Not so long that everything in the freezer would spoil, but just long enough that we'd need to slurp down all the ice cream.

I'm looking forward to another fire tonight, even if we don't lose any power. I like the way we all sort of congregate close by the flames. The way the children bring toys and projects and books onto the living room rug. The way you can hear the crackling from the other room. The way the tending process is this activity we all can get in on. The way the house gets so hot, it's a good excuse to break into that stock of chilled summer wine (ha!).

Two years ago, we lived in a house with a fireplace, but it was in the high seventies up through the whole month of December and a fire would have been ridiculous. Last year, we lived in a house with a fireplace (a different house), but we moved in two days before Christmas and it was enough to get the tree and decorations up, to make cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, to wrap presents in time. A fire was the least of our concerns. So this year, we're here and (mostly) unpacked and the fire isn't just a fire in the fireplace. It's a symbol that we have fewer stresses, more time to think about finding wood, chopping kindling, scrunching up balls of newspaper. The blazing fire makes it feel like Home. And that is the warmest feeling.

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