Monday, March 2, 2009

Stoking March Fires

This morning as a foot of snow piles up outside, I indulge in one of life's great luxuries -- a morning fire, to be valued doubly, because it'll be one of the last for this winter.

I know many people don't want to bother with wood fires -- hauling logs into the city and in my case, up the back stairs, is a lot of work. The fires themselves don't really provide much heat -- most of that goes up the chimney, while polluting the air and spewing dust into the house. Worse the ashes need to be swept up every couple of weeks.

But I'd never give up my real flames for a gas-powered imitation, even in the city. 

I've found a farm near campus where I can buy a trunk load of split logs. But obtaining enough kindling poses a problem. So I pick up sticks around Capitol Hill. It's added a zest of adventure to errands and makes me feel more self-sufficient, as I follow these instincts to hunt and gather.

When I return from these foraging expeditions, I like to lay the makings for fire right away, so it'll be ready later in the day. I challenge myself to construct a teepee of logs on a bed of kindling that can be light by using only one match. If the wood is good enough and I've used enough skill, a fire can crackle and spurt on its own long enough to last a nap --another winter luxury on a snowday.