Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Lying by a fire
Because the woods are dense, it is inevitable that limbs will fall or trees will die. I do mourn the passing of a tree. It doesn't seem right that trees succumb to heart rot or fungus or some kind of introduced disease. We humans seem more suited to those kinds of mortal wounds.
I remember the seven huge elms that fronted the home place in Virginia. I stood under them to play, to catch the school bus, to ride my bicycle, to sit in the shade during hot summer days. They were magnificent. I never thought about them dying, but eventually they succumbed to Dutch elm disease. One by one they were cut down and now have been gone for years, rotting somewhere or burned up.
After Hurricane Hugo came through in 1989 and stripped the leaves from the trees with its deadly wind, the trees were stressed. A large water oak in the front yard died within a year. Lots of limbs came down. I probably worked about four months to get all of the wood split and stored. All the while I was wishing that the tree was still there and not being cut up with a chain saw and split for fire wood.
Because of the woods and the finite life of trees, there is an ample supply of wood in the wood shed. And on the type of cold days that we have been having it feels good to have a fire going. There are four fireplaces here--two that use wood and two that use gas. Most of the time, we light the gas logs that are in the bedroom and bath. But the last few days, we have had a wood fire in the fireplace near the kitchen.
Having a fire is a wonderful thing to me. I was happy when we would have a fire going when I was a kid. It felt good to come inside after being in the cold and warming up near the fire. It is romantic too. I had a lot of good times on the sofa in front of that fireplace when I was in high school--those stolen kisses and raging teenage hormones seemed as hot as the embers burning.
I am glad that the wood hasn't all gone to waste. Some of it has provided warmth when nothing else has, some of it has added heat to what was already hot, and some of it has transfixed me as the sap popped and sizzled, and the flames flew up into the night sky. Mesmerizing, lying by a fire.