Monday, November 4, 2013

We lit our first fire of the season yesterday and it reminded me of this

I was 8 years old. I could smell a wood burning fire. It smelled good enough to eat like having a barbecue in winter. I heard the crackling logs as I walked down the hallway into the living room. I loved that our fireplace was open, that I could see the burning wood through the heavy metal mesh that blocked embers from sputtering out onto the carpet. Dad had made the fire before he went to work. It was a school day so I wouldn't be able to enjoy it’s warmth for very long. I relished in the smell as I got ready.

I was 24 years old. We had bought my father-in-laws house that same year. We had decided to remodel the master bedroom as soon as we moved in. Neither of us wanted to share the same bedroom Mike’s parents had shared. There were no other usable bedrooms in the house, so temporarily we put our bed in the corner of the living room, right across from the wood burning stove. We used a couch to create a divide between our bed and the rest of the space.

The living room built 30 years after the house had been built. It was now 40 years since then, but the vents in the living room had never been attached to the furnace. Every day when Mike came home from work he would load the brick shelf around the stove with wood and make a fire. Each night I would warm up rice bags in the microwave to heat my feet, when the warmth of the fire had died down. All we had were the silk sheets we'd gotten as wedding gift. Every morning I could see my breath when I woke and opened my eyes. I knew we needed warmer sheets but I was waiting until we have the money. New house, new baby, things were tight. After 3 months we went to Wal-Mart to buy something else, and we saw some bed sheets. They were fleece so soft and cozy and warm looking. Whatever it was that we had gone to the store for that day, we bought the sheets instead, and we've never regretted it.

We got home at about 2 in the afternoon. Mike made a fire, and I immediately put the sheets on the bed. Then I had to try them out. Mike tried them with me, and Hunter at 18 months couldn't be left out. It was warm, it was the first time I had nestled into bed and the sheets weren't cold. It felt so good I needed to close my eyes. Maybe we would take a nap with Hunter just to enjoy these new sheets. It was like I had taken a drug, and all I could think about was how warm I felt, how I never wanted to leave my bed again.When we woke up it was 7 pm and we had missed the family Christmas party.

When I was 26 years old we decided to replace our furnace. The old one had been removed months ago. We had ordered a more efficient one, but it had not arrived yet. With the old furnace gone, all we had was our wood burning stove. Although our bedroom had been finished, with no heat it was useless, so we moved our bed back down to the living room again. We hung a blanket over the opening to the hallway so all the heat from the stove would be contained in our living room. I became very good and lighting fires on my own. I had even figured out how to get it going without letting any smoke back fill the room.

We lived and slept in the living room for two weeks. The only time I would leave it was to use the bathroom or prepare food in the kitchen then quickly bring it down to the living room. We had a fire going 24/7 those two weeks. We used an entire wall full of wood outside our home. I had never been so grateful for the wood. I had wood splinters in my fingers by the end, I smelled like wood, and all I saw was wood surrounding the doors that led to the driveway, piled around the fireplace, chips all across the tile where we had split kindling. All I could see was pine and chestnut logs surrounding me in a wood paneled room. The smell of burning wood has a cleanliness to it. Like all the bad in the world is being smoked out, and what remains is pure sweet smoldering home.

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