I'm going to take it waaaaaaay back tonight. I'm talking Neanderthal here. That's right, tonight I am grateful for...fire.
I know, that was kind of unexpected, right?
Anyway, I'm not fond of all fire. I don't like house fires or forest fires. Campfires are good. A nice fire in the fireplace is the best. When properly contained and serving a purpose, fire can be our friend.
In our case, fire is what keeps us warm. When we moved into this house, it was heated with oil or gas or propane...something ridiculously expensive that I haven't bothered to remember. Between our high ceilings and shoddy insulation, we were talking mucho dinero just to stay marginally warm through the winter.
It sure was convenient, though.
Not too long ago (one year? two?), dear sweet darling hubby decided that it was time to invest in a Heatmor furnace. It's a freestanding outdoor furnace that looks quite a bit like a small storage shed. Fire inside the furnace heats water that makes steam that blows through pipes in the house and keeps the house warm...again, it's something like that. Details bore me. The important thing is, as long as there's fire in the furnace, there's heat in the house.
That's all well and good as long as Gene is home to keep the fire going. Unfortunately, he's not always around. Even more unfortunately, now he's often gone at night.
Despite my objections, I've learned to build a fire. I've also learned not to rely on Gene to keep kindling cut for me, so we no longer throw away anything made of paper or cardboard. Newspaper, toilet paper tubes, and cardboard boxes are my kindling 99% of the time. The wads of paper that my Scentsy orders come packed in burn best of all.
(I would like to pause here to add that while I build a fire differently from Gene, I can still do it. The man had the audacity today to saunter over to where I was building a fire - while sick, mind you - laugh, and say, "that's cute." He escaped unharmed, but barely.)
Building the fire is one thing, but heading out to keep it going is quite another. As with any fire, it needs to be "fed" pretty regularly - day or night. And I have a problem with heading outside, around the house, surrounded by woods, at night. Granted, I always head out armed with a heavy flashlight, a phone, and a big dog, but still. It's just scary dark outside of the circle of light around the furnace. One night, I will surely be eaten by coyotes, and I will never even see them coming.
(Note to self: are there coyotes around here? Probably so. Double check that.)
But despite my should-have-been-outgrown-by-now, probably-irrational-but-so-what fear of the dark, I have to be grateful for the fire. It's dirty and smelly and darned inconvenient, but it keeps us warm for next to absolutely nothing. And at least it's outside - not in the living room, where our wood stove stood when I was a child. In its place is now a nice brick and rock (gas/propane/whatever) fireplace that maybe, if I'm lucky, Gene will allow us to light just once this winter - probably on Christmas morning.