Musing by Fake Fire
Sitting on the comfy leather furniture at Panera Bread and wondering if one can find the same degree of familiarity and inspiration in front of a ceramic firelog and gas flame as an honest-to-goodness wood-fed hearth.
True story: once I visited Uncle Pike and Aunt O at their home on East Paris, not long after they moved there. It was in the winter with about four feet of snow in the yard. Pike had a car that was buried under a snow bank. It was that deep.
For some reason (which violated all reasonableness), we decided to have a fire in the fireplace after the kiddies had gone to bed. O wisely decided to leave the boys with their project and retired as well. This required an Artic trek to the barn, approximately fifty yards behind the house and across an ice-filled ravine to fetch firewood. Through the hip-deep snow. Green firewood and possibly wet as well.
Using paper, cardboard, and maybe a small coffee table, we succeeded in starting a sputtering, smoky fire. After forgetting to open the damper, we also accidently fumigated the house. Finally, enjoying our small triumph, we lounged in front of the hearth and waxed philosophical. Or waxed something. Maybe shoes.
After enjoying the toasty coziness, it was time for bed. The fire was slowly dying, ("and my dear, we're still goodbying. . . ."--that has nothing to do with the story. I just like the clever lyrics of "Let It Snow"--until it becomes predictable sentimental twaddle.) But I digress. . . .
There was no fire screen and the carpet was too close to the fireplace. So the fire had to be put out, and we had a smoldering, ember studded log to deal with. Put the fire out? Why not "out" as in the "out the front door"? Why not indeed?
Opening the front door, Pike and I use various tools--fireplace tongs, pokers, meat forks, maybe a cookie sheet--to heave the log into a snow bank in front of the house, where it angrily hissed its displeasure at us for some minutes. No, wait--we should have used a cookie sheet because we still scattered ashes and fire specks across the living room carpet.
No problem. Out came the vacuum and in a few minutes, we had cleaned up the ashes and bits of ember. They were now deposited in a paper sack under high air pressure. Shortly the vacuum began to smoke as the bag caught fire. Thinking quickly, we yanked the cover off the vac, dismounted the bag, and heaved it into the snow bank, where it expired with demure sigh.
Boys and fire . . . the Stone Age's gift to the modern world.