Thursday, January 28, 2010

This Is Winter

I'm growing weary of winter. I'm looking forward to the return of days when I can take the kids to the park and touching the monkey bars isn't like putting one's hand into a cooler full of ice. I'm looking forward to a bit more freedom.

Yeah, winter sunsets are lovely, and the days are already starting to lengthen, so that by the time my husband gets home and I get my butt and bags in the car to head to school, the sky is doing funny things...all dark gray and gold and pink and red. It's getting dark, but it's not dark yet. So I consider that a triumph for my neurotransmitters, which have gotten thankfully heartier over the years, but still have gone a bit wonky by the time February rolls around. Light is always a good thing.

The best part of winter is having a fire in the fireplace and sitting in front of it with a book. Usually I end up having to put the book down because the kids come over and start sitting on me and then one runs to get the blanket and some pillows and we end up huddled in a cozy jumble front of this pretty, dangerous thing. It's mesmerizing, and occasionally the logs will pop and send embers towards us, but the screen catches them, and we remain toasty but unscathed.

I needed to have a fireplace. Which sounds incredibly obnoxious, I know: the lengthy list of things we've come to expect and demand in the houses we purchase. But really, a fireplace was non-negotiable. Everything else was.

I want to shove logs in there; I want that slightly smoky smell that wisps around the living room and into the fibers of the blanket we wrap ourselves in; I want to hear the crackling of the wood succumbing and see when the wood is so far gone that it breaks apart under the weight of new logs; I want to move things around with the poker, shift pieces to let some air in, and let the flame rise again. I want to tend the fire.

There is something contemplative about it, something soothing and restorative. You can let it die down, or you can bring it back to life. It would have to be just embers for wood to no longer catch. And it even tends to mellow the kids. A fire means downtime, it means sitting (although not necessarily still), and it means that we all tend to stop doing and start being together, usually in some kind of haphazard pile.

And although I love the arrival of Spring and greet it with near giddiness, it's always a bit of a downer to have that last fire, when the evening air is still cool enough and our wood pile has dwindled down to nothing. It's always quite bittersweet and strangely ceremonious. I'm happy to say good-bye to winter, to bare branches and the prolific nature of gray, but sad to say goodbye to that other source of heat and light.

Perhaps I'm not quite so ready to be rid of winter just yet. A few more weeks then. I'll take it.


Monica said...

You are so right: fires tend to make everyone quieter, don't they? Lovely essay! You should keep writing, lady.

Indigo Children said...

Our fireplace is fake -- I hate it. There is a hole in the wall with an electric plug in for some fake logs that light up and do not even give off heat!

We have to go outside to the fire pit to get the real thing (and then it is a little too cold). I love the smell though.

Someday I will have a real fireplace.

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