mardi 7 octobre 2008


Wood fires might seem romantic, exciting even. To others, they might appear a barbarous relic from the medieval age. Here in the middle of nowhere, there is no choice. Things being what they are financially, and the building be what it is architecturally, there they remain, pretty much as the fireplaces they were in 1891 when the house was built. Huge big gaps in the wall, a blackened wall at the back and a narrow little twisted chimney that rain and sometimes birds fall down.

A dialectic has developed between the fireplaces and myself. I put screwed up balls of paper (old Humanités) in the grate, scatter them with dry twigs and place larger branches and logs of wood on top of that. It's usually fairly cold in the morning so this has to be done pretty quickly. I light the edges of the paper. After a few minutes of the room is filled with acrid smoke. But slightly warmer. I am forced to open the window to get rid of the smog. The room clears but it is now colder than it was when I started. Also, I smell like a kipper. I repeat the process several times, varying the amounts of paper, wood and at one point sawing the logs into yet smaller chunks of fuel. After an hour of struggle, coughing and sooty tantrums, something approaching a fire gets going.

Meanwhile, the sun has come up and bathes the house in Autumn sunshine and I have to open the door to let some warm air out.