My old flame

By Posted on Mar 03 2013 | By

 As winter draws to a close its farewell to a loving friend

Gazing into her magical depths transfixes me. Night after cold and dreary night she comforts me. Her warmth and charm infuse our living room with a presence. She never speaks accept to murmur assurances that peace prevails. And now, she begins to fade as the days grow longer and the sun gains strength.

Until we meet again next fall, I will soon bid farewell to my beloved wood burning fireplace.

Fire. Perhaps only the sound of a gurgling creek holds such hypnotic power over man. The fossil record dates fire to 470 million years ago; well before man appeared on the planet. Archaeological evidence points to man’s mastery over fire some 400,000 years ago. Capturing and controlling fire enabled man to assume his position as the dominate force among all living things.

IMG_6855_1Through the centuries fire embedded itself in our psyche. Our Stone Age ancestors’ greatest fear was the loss of its fire source. Earliest man captured a flickering flame thrown down by a bolt of lighting. Cradling and lovingly protecting this miracle from the heavens was central to his survival. The warmth and protection afforded by the flame is seemingly hard wired into our DNA.

But today, man’s proximity to fire is far removed. Fossil fuels provide most of the energy needed to drive the modern world. Direct connection to fire is remote for most of us; more often associated with pollution and burning buildings than comfort.

And yet the lure remains. As I sit in my living room and watch my newly lit wood fire gain strength, it generates a feeling of security and peace. I have often reflected that fire is a real presence, as if an old friend were joining our company and comforting us with her warmth and ever changing landscape of hot coals and burning logs. I cast back 400,000 years and understand the powerful link between the dependence on light and heat to man’s existence in a harsh world.

When we first purchased our home twelve years ago, we had a faux gas burning fireplace installed. It bore a close resemblance to the real thing but was a cold and indifferent companion. Hour after hour it burned with the boring sameness of a rotating drum-like photograph. All glitz but no character. Monotonous.

IMG_7548Fortunately, six years ago we discovered an out of work master bricklayer who offered to build the real deal at an attractive price. It was designed to accept a wood burning insert stove with a variable speed blower fan, maximizing the heat produced to reduce our propane furnace fuel costs.

Securing a local wood cutter to keep us supplied with split wood was later augmented by white oak slab wood delivered from a nearby mill. It made the entire unit a cost saving proposition; not dramatic, but nonetheless cheaper that our previous heating costs.

So it is with mixed feelings I embrace the coming spring. The winter has been long and dreary and the brown-drab forests and fields a one dimensional landscape. Spring with its lush greens, yellows and purples will soon be upon us.

But my old flame will steal away with the coming warmth and vivid colors.

Till next fall, adieu.


Categories : HAGARTY TALES