The fireplace was the centrepiece of the renovated family room in our farmhouse. One entire wall was brick with a substantial wood burning feature on what seemed like half the length of the wall, to a little kid. It was the 70s version of an enormous flat screen entertainment centre.
After the kitchen, this hearth was the heart of our home. Which might explain my obsession with fireplaces. But they have to be wood burning. I know gas and electric ones are easier, more efficient and “cleaner”…but they totally flop on ambiance, for me.
It might have been a rite of passage in our house – along with first learning to drive a tractor before you got the keys to any car – that you could build a well-structured fire. The positioning and proportioning of kindling to the progressively larger logs. And if you needed the bellows to fan it…well, that was really just cheating.
I have carried the love of making and stoking and gazing at fires with me – campfires, other people’s wood stoves, anything I can stack and light.
Every year, about now, when the duvet and socks appear – I long for even just a little wood stove in the corner of my living room.
I’ll soon be sitting by this one in a lounge at Rancho La Puerta.