Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Fine Art Of Fire Starting

Okay, so it's no surprise for you to hear that it's cold in my neck of the woods. Mind you, I'm totally not complaining. For those of you who may not know, I was born and raised in Key West, Florida where its residents experience year-round summer. Really hot summer. Experiencing the four seasons is a true delight. This nice chilly weather feels a lot better than being hot and sweaty. And my faithful readers (all 2 of you) know that I detest long sleeves. But on to my randomness.......

The house we bought when we moved here was our first home to own. We chose our house for two reasons: it was cheap and it was on the same street as my parents' house. It wasn't until we had been here for just a little while that I realized why our house was cheap. There's lots of stuff wrong with it, that's why. One of the many things our house is deficient in is the insulation. Also, we don't have many windows, but the ones we do have are drafty. This makes for a warm house in the summer and a cold house in the winter. Now, don't start thinking that I live so far out of civilization that we don't have central heat. I don't know if I'd consider it the traditional central heat, but more of an attempt to be a central heater. Our house has many cold spots, and it's not because we're being haunted. Like I said, we have bad insulation. What keeps us from totally freezing is that we have a fireplace in the living room. Since it isn't the gas kind where you flip a switch and get sudden flames, you actually have to get the wood and start the fire before you get any heat.

It's here that I should mention that my husband is well-versed in all things firewood. His father makes his living by cutting and selling firewood. David and his sisters started working with his dad very early on. His house growing up had a wood burning stove to produce heat. So saying that he had experience with making fires is an understatement. Let's contrast this, shall we, with my upbringing. In Key West, no one has heat of any kind. Maybe a few people have central heat, but most folks make do with space heaters when they need them. I do remember us having an old metal space heater that we stored in the shed for about 363 days a year and since we were all warm-natured at my house, we didn't use it very much. Also, just so you know, my Brownie troop disbanded before I got to become an official Girl Scout and go camping in the woods. My experience with starting fires is basically nill.

So then I married David and moved to any old, drafty house where it gets cold. For the most part, taking care of the fire is David's job. Not that he has to do it, but he's better at it than I am, so we all work within our strengths. That's why I fix Raelynn's hair each morning...not that he can't do it, but I'm better at it. There are times when David isn't around and a fire needs to be made. I'm good at cleaning out the ashes in the fireplace, but not so good at starting the fire. But just saying I'm not good at it won't make it any warmer in my house, so I have become a student in the art of starting a fire.

I must say here that David is truly talented at making fires. There are other things he does well, like drive stuff, but making fires is something I think he could give lessons on. That's a good thing since I desperately need to get better at it. At our house, we use cut up pine pieces (cut by David) as the bottom layer in the fireplace grate. On top of that I use a variation of bark, dried wood, and smaller twigs. After stacking the wood just so, I then light the pine pieces. If I've done it right, the pine will ignite the wood and my fire will take off. My successes in fire making are about equal to my failures. But not being one to give up and wanting to show my willingness to contribute, I continue my quest in making a fire.

Tonight, I was successful. When David came home, the fire was burning even though it had yet to warm up the house. With an internal temperature of 54 degrees, it takes awhile to warm the house. But....I got credit for my efforts. Tonight I felt like Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway. I want to pound my chest and declare to no one in particular...."Look at me....I've made fire. I. have. made. fire." Aren't you proud of me?


Crystal said...

Yay for you! I can't start a fire either. Good thing we don't have a fireplace. I have heard that dryer lint is a great firestarter. Have you tried it?

Kathy said...

Isn't that what starter fluid is for? At any rate, I'm VERY proud of you. I don't think I could build a fire if I needed to.