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I Love a Good Fire

It’s atavistic, I think. Most of us like to cozy up to a fireplace, stare into the flickering flames, dream and drift or think of nothing at all. Others find inspiration in writing by a fire, snug in a blanket, laptop at the ready.

I was raised without central heat. In a bitterly cold house on the Texas/Oklahoma border, the welcome warmth of a hot stove was our greatest comfort. Those stoves were closed cast iron heaters, fueled by chopped wood and vented via a tin chimney with a damper to regulate the heat.

In 1938, when we moved farther south to our present day farm in West Texas, we graduated to butane gas heaters and could watch the flames again.

I married in 1956. My husband and I bought a small house in Pasadena without central heat. It was back to gas heaters and I was thrilled. Bath room, bedrooms, living room and kitchen, all had gas stoves of some kind.

Fast forward twelve years. We bought the big house, still in Pasadena, and now we had central heat. I could never get warm and had one of our employees set up my best gas heater in the new garage. Stosh blew up when he came home. I was ensconced before that heater reading a book.

“Barb,” he yelled. “You’ve got 4000 square feet of house around you, and here you sit in the garage.”

He must be turning over in his grave, because I now have beautiful gas wall heaters installed in the den and here in my office/bedroom. Yes, of course I still use the central heat, but take no comfort in it.

I stand in from of a wall heater if I want instant warmth. I glance over at the fire in my office and find joy in more ways than one. Guests love to warm themselves at my gas heaters.

We have propane heaters all over the old farm house. In the yard, we have a fire pit. At night we sit out there and grill supper, listen to the coyotes and watch stars fall.

Our fascination with fire goes back to our ancestors. It’s a folk memory. The fires they built in front of their caves gave them light and protected them from wild animals, kept them warm and cooked their food.

Some of us tend to take our fires for granted. Not me. Excuse me while I go sit in front of my heater. I’ve got stories to plot and axes to grind.

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