Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Staring at fires at night

My parents are visiting, along with my sister and her family. As part of my preparations for their arrival, I bought a big ceramic chiminea. I had never seen one before coming to Texas-- outdoor fireplaces didn't make a lot of sense in Michigan. Here, though, there are many evening in the 60's, clear and cool, and it is perfect for an outdoor fire. I took some bricks to build a little hearth and set up a few old chairs near the new addition. With a little work, that warm glow took up in the belly of the chiminea, and we all were drawn to it.

That's how we spent the last of the evening, too. My father has known me for 46 years, and we have built many fires for one another. There is something primal in that-- the campfires, the fireplace at their house at Christmas, the firepit at Osler Island, all of those fires built with our hands plus some magic we don't fully control. By a fire at night, conversation is fuller and silences more satisfying. There was a long moment tonight in the midst of one of those silences; I looked back over my shoulder at the moon and his eyes followed mine. Nothing more was said.

There is much to be thankful for this year. It shall not always be this way.

If you burn piƱon wood in your chimenea, the smoke it emits serves as a natural mosquito repellent.
I really enjoyed this post. What a great description of the allure of a fire.
My dad put a fire pit out in our backyard in Sherman. Every holiday when we are all at home for a couple of days he will go start a big fire, and we will sit out there listening to music, drinking beer, and talking. And you're right, there are few things in this world better than that right there.
We have a fire pit in my aunt's yard in New York. It's not a chimenea; it's kind of resembles a wok, which we throw wood in and burn. Typing this out, it sounds a lot more dangerous than it actually is, which is merely very dangerous. Even in NY, where we only get to use it about 3 or 4 months out of the year, it's totally worth it and something we really enjoy.
I have been trying to talk Leslie into getting one or two chimineas for our back yard. I think this year will be the year.

It is a strange thing as well for me to have an outside fire place. Kentucky is no Michigan, but you certainly don't stay outside during the winter.
--Matt R
If you need any kindling let me know and we can see if your brother can truck it to Texas from NC.

My favorite thing in college was the fire circle we had in the woods behind our dorm. Walking to it in the dark was quite an ordeal. None of us thought to bring (or buy) a flashlight. We would count the step until we had to step over the downed tree. We would go back there and just generally be quite except for someone who would bring a guitar. There is nothing more hypnotizing than staring into a fire.

Please say hello to your parents and your sister for me. And if your brother mysteriously shows up - him to.
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