Last night, I entertained myself thorougly by trying to start a fire (in the fireplace) with the damp wood I found on sale at Wild Oats when I went to get dinner items. I have been way too lazy to order a half a cord, so I must subsist on cheap wood that is damp. I actually coaxed it to burn for a while. Since I had no proper lighter, newspapers, and/or fatwood sticks, I had to make do with torn-up paper bags and some decorative matches we brought home from Vienna a couple of years ago, with a picture of a Lippizaner on the front of the matchbox.
I’ve always been the one who builds the fires in our family. Dad always built one in the afternoon when he got home from work, during the cold months. With our house way out in the country, we needed the warmth. The fireplace was not one of your small, modern ones, or even large, modern ones. It was built along good old-fashioned colonial lines… five feet tall, seven or so wide, and very shallow, to reflect the heat back out into the room instead of up the chimney.
They don’t make ’em like that anymore, and it’s before my eyes as I try to make the logs burn. But I haven’t seen it in years, and I doubt I will again. Mom sold the house a few years ago. A doctor, his wife, and five kids live there now. The house always needed more children than me. I see the house every so often now, but only in my dreams. I never dreamed about the house until Mom sold it, and now I’m a regular visitor.
My logs last night never did catch properly, and this morning are lying there half-charred, as if I had had no matches at all.