There is something primal about a fire. The smell of wood burning. The crackle of a fire in the night’s chilled air. The light and the heat. I am sitting in front of my first wood fire on my patio. I am watching the wood burn and flames dance. There is, what my granddaughters call, a “Colby cheese” moon, rising over the stand of pines into a star studded sky. Dogs in the neighborhood are barking and cars returning from who knows where, sound in the distance. My cats, Papi and Sister, have scattered, not knowing what to make of the new sounds, smell and appearance of the flames in this firebowl.
The deer I feed every night passed through, but the fire and smoke were new to them and they did not linger to eat. Minutes later, I heard them come back, hunger getting the best of them. I could see only their outlines in the inky night, but I counted five deer. Three adults and the twins of the three-footed doe. I heard what I thought were the cats, in the yard near the edge of the patio and I called out to them. Imagine my surprise to see the white border around the eyes of one of the new generation of raccoon that I feed. Apparently, the smoke and fire were not deterrents to the meal routine of these, the newest residents of Evansridge, but I was, as they turned tail and headed back to the safety of the night.
I remember when we came back from the Philippines, my grandparents butchered a pig in the back of their house and made carnitas outside in a caldron. Dark night, lights strung in the large tree in the back, lighting the area where the pig hung by its back hoofs, the caldron lit with a wood fire. Fast forward twenty years, camping trips with in the Shasta Mountain camp grounds, campfires lighting the night and taking the significant chill out of the air. Nothing like a campfire to coax you from your warm sleeping bag and tent for some fireside coffee. I wasn’t raised in the country, and I did not camp in the outdoor again, after one particular lively camping experience with a co-worker and our daughters in the Cuyamaca campgrounds in the foothills east of San Diego. (That experience is another blog!) Not long after that experience, I was in Oceanside, packing to move us to North Carolina when Chester called me to tell me he found a place for us to move into. You will love it, he said, it has windows with large area, almost like window seats, he told me. It has two and a half bathrooms and a large kitchen. But, he told me, best of all, it has a wood fireplace. That wood fireplace was not just our ambiance in the unexpected cold of the fall and winter, but when we lost power in two major events; a snow storm our first winter in North Carolina and a 100-year ice storm a couple of years later, we lost power for hours in the first even, and days in the second. It was our only source of heat each time, and so my affinity for a wood fire, is much more than a play on the senses. Having an outdoor firebowl, I realize, is a luxury. However, I sat outside for three hours, never turning on the tv, made no phone calls, sent no texts or updates to Facebook, after the initial one about having an outdoor firebowl… just me, the fire, and the night.