October 25, 2006

When it's raining

My part of the world can be gorgeous on sunny fall days, when the afternoon light shines on brilliant red and yellow leaves and the sky is a deep blue. But towards the end of October, we get dark, cold days of icy rain. Nothing is so chilly as rain when the temperatures are hovering around freezing. The winds blow the leaves off the trees, leaving bare branches against the cloudy sky, and slap against wet winter coats and the bare hands of those who haven't gotten their mittens out yet for the season. Most of us are just hoping the precipitation will turn to snow, which is lighter and more cheerful, and warmer because it doesn't soak through all your clothes.

On days like this, I keep a fire going in the fireplace. It's the only way to ward off the ominous realization that the days are getting darker and shorter and colder. The crackle and the heat that radiates from the flames makes my home a cosy place to be. On cold, wet weekends, everyone gathers around the fire: it's the natural place to go as soon as you walk in the door.

Boy in Black was home last weekend to play Ultimate Frisbee with his siblings and extras, and they played all day Saturday, despite the cold and rain. They wore long underwear and gloves, but they were practicing layouts, which involves throwing your entire body against the ground, often into a puddle, and they would come in periodically to cluster around the fire, dripping muddy pools of water onto the carpet. Red-haired Sister was in town with her kids, and she chose a spot by the fire where she could nestle with a good book. She is a restful person to be around. If I say something like, "Sorry things are such a mess here," she shrugs and says, "Oh, I wouldn't expect the house to be clean with all the kids you've got here." And if some cleaning does need to be done, like say, we've run out of clean glasses and we are all drinking out of vases and measuring cups, she'll pitch in to help clean and help yell at the kids to clean too.

With-a-Why and his cousin Suburban Nephew kept disappearing upstairs to play in the boys' room, but every so often they would wander back down to the fire where their mothers were. With-a-Why has a habit of just stopping at the piano to play a song, or even a piece of a song, whenever he enters the room. Dandelion Niece and Neighbor Girl, who are about the same age, were running around the house together, but they kept coming back to the fire to ask a question or ask for something to eat.

Always we gather near the fire, drawn to the warmth, the smell, the crackling noise.
Blonde Niece, who is one of the Ultimate Frisbee players, will come in sopping wet and sit on the hearth, saying, "Oh, that fire feels good." My Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter will take a place on the couch with her laptop, basking in the warmth as she writes a paper. The boys will all bring their mugs of hot cocoa over to the fire, sitting on arms of the comfy chair or on the hearth or the floor. My husband will always look over at me and say, "Aren't you glad we put in a fireplace when we built this house?"

I cannot imagine these cold fall days without it.

12 comments:

ppolarbear said...

I love my fireplace.

Marie said...

The fireplace is the only thing I miss about my old house. This is exactly why. Well, without all the kids. As usual, your house sounds like a wonderful place to be.

mc said...

I would loooove to have a fireplace, especially this time of year, when I feel much colder than the temperature would indicate. We are still fighting off turning the thermostat up, but when the baby's nose is cold in broad daylight, that's not going to last long...

Anonymous said...

I went over to a friend's house tonight. There was a beautiful fire in the fireplace. I didn't want to leave my spot near it for anything.

Mom2BJM said...

In my growing up years we had a woodburning stove rather than a fireplace, and often we would come home to bread baking in it. What a smell! With a fire in the stove all night, we kept nice and toasty-burning pinon pine - and had a pot of water on the stove to keep some moisture in the air.

ArticulateDad said...

I remember walking home from elementary school in winter, slogging through the lightly ice-covered stream that ran along much of my homeward route. I'd walk atop the icy crust until it gave way, then laugh at the bottom 4 inches of my pant legs as they froze solid halfway home.

My feet would be bright red, as I thawed my socks by the fireplace, before removing them. There are few delights that bring us closer to the wonders of nature in winter than a warm and crackling hearth.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

We have a gas fireplace, not a wood-burning one, and it is not remotely the same. Still, it's better than a vent. When I was little we always stood over a vent to warm our toes!

ccw said...

My husband and I both grew up with fireplaces so it was a requirement when we bought our house. A beautiful fire on a crisp fall day always makes me smile.

Kristen said...

I can hear the crackling and smell the cocoa. I can't even see outside my window because of the fog and rain this morning. I wish I had a fireplace in my office.
:-)

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

We have a fireplace, but Keith says we will never have a fire in it, that it is a "decorative accessory." It's pink marble, yahoo. I'd rather have a real fireplace, with a real fire!

Or like we used to have, a fisher granny woodstove with doors that opened radiating heat into the whole house, and with cheery flames when we wanted to sit there.

Liesl said...

Yup, we've been having some of the same weather here in NJ, and there's more to come on Saturday, according to the forecast. But, mmmmmm, your posts is making me feel all warm and toasty. Thanks :)

cloudscome said...

Who was it...Robert Frost...? that said a fire warms you twice; once when you chop the wood and again when you burn it. I think you've gotten it to warm your family three times! Chop, burn, write about it... Here in your writing it is warming all of us...