Today I am grateful for fireplaces. We don’t have a fireplace where we now live, so I’ve dumped sand in the bottom of my Mexican chiminea and poke some thick candles inside as a substitute. It works. Sort of.
For years we had plain old wood fireplaces. It wasn’t Christmas unless my husband was forgetting which way the damper was open and filling the house full of smoke with that first fire. We spent more time with the doors and windows open fanning the blue cloud to the outside with newspapers than we did sitting in front of the fire enjoying it.
When we came back from Indonesia and lived in an apartment for a few years we had a gas fireplace. Flick a switch and it’s on. Whoopee. It looked pretty, if always the same. It was very convenient. It was easy. Nothing stunk. I wanted to love it but I didn’t.
On a recent visit to my sister’s house during a cold snap in Wisconsin, she started a good old fashioned wood fire in her fireplace. It was already decorated beautifully so we took our tea and sat with our feet on the hearth. Heaven. We toasted ourselves like marshmallows preparing for the graham cracker and chocolate bar. There wasn’t a blue cloud of smoke. . .just a hint of a scent that wood was burning.
Gas fireplaces are okay. I guess they’ve improved upon them so they look more natural. And they are probably safer. But for me nothing beats the soft smell of wood snap-crackling as it makes a pile of hot glowing embers in a traditional fireplace.