On feeling the burn….

The first cold rain of the season came yesterday and carried on through the evening. Fall is definitely here and it came with a bit of a vengeance. One week, it was 95*F; the next it’s barely scraping 70*F and the rain and chill has come. Fall can be a bit of a strange season for me…it signals the end of summer (my favorite) and begins to usher in winter (my least favorite). It’s also the beginning of football season which, frankly, is about the most exciting time of year for me, second only to Christmas!
Fall brings with it a myriad of delicious sights and smells, many of which conjure up some wonderful memories. Many of those memories revolve around two things for me: my childhood (and sometimes my teen years) and fire. Aaahhhh fire. I grew up in an old, old mining cabin that had been added to and remodeled over several years. While there was central heat in the house, my parents opted instead to make good use of the giant woodburning stove in the corner of the house. There was a smaller, pot-bellied stove in the dining room and around the time I turned 13, there was yet another stove in the kitchen on the opposite end of the house. But the big one in the living room holds most of my memories.
When it was cold weather season, my dad would create these intense fires that could sear the skin right off your back. My brother and sister and I used to love sitting on the hearth, heating our backs for as long as we could stand, then running to the couch and slamming against the cushions to feel more and more of that heat. I remember the smell of the fire waking me up in the mornings for school, knowing that the clothes I’d picked out the night before would be laid out beneath the stove, all warm and cozy for me. We’d all sit around the stove in the evening, somtimes watching television, but mostly my mom would grade papers, my sister and I would take turns practicing the piano and doing homework, my brother played with Legos and cars, and my dad would read a book.
The stove became a staple of life for us. It wasn’t Christmas morning without a roaring fire. Once, my dad even made good on the song and we had chestnuts roasting over that fire. When we remodeled the kitchen and installed the “blue stove,” my dad taught us the magic of cooking indoors with real flames (and, often, how to put out whatever disastrous fire we’d created in the process). Dad would cook up Red River Cereal and fried eggs every Saturday morning in the fall and winter, while Mom would warm her bum against the stove (a skill I have inherited and something that the two of us still do, to this day, whenever the “blue stove” is nice and warm).
Of all the things I so desperately love about the house I grew up in, the fireplace is by far the thing I love the most. By the time I reached my angsty teenage years, I could sit and sulk by that fireplace for hours. But more than anything, I loved introducing my friends to the wonder of that stove. I have distinct memories of standing next to that stove for many a formal photo in high school. I remember bringing a boy home to meet my parents for one of the first times and he just stood by the stove, waiting for whatever might happen next (and with my parents, the options there are limitless). Christmas not so many years later when a good and wonderful friend would join my family for Christmas Eve Soup, made on the “blue stove,” the house reeking of Christmas and fire and love…and mulberries (apparently).
I love fire. Not in a pyromaniac kind of way, but in the way that only someone who has grown up with a wood-burning fireplace can love fire. In the way that only a person who has felt that intense heat on their face can love fire. In the way that only those who know the chasm of difference between a calm orange glow and a terrifying blue streak can love fire.

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2 thoughts on “On feeling the burn….

  1. I love a great fire, and I even checked out my fireplace yesterday. To my delight, it's a lot bigger than our old one! 😀

    I love autumn and winter. More than summer or spring. I love it so much that I wrote about it on my blog today. 🙂

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