As we sat in front of our cozy fire Sunday morning I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head towards the window to see a veil of beautiful fluffy snowflakes drifting down to the ground, where they immediately melted. It snowed for five minutes or more, with no accumulation. I felt joy. It hasn’t changed, after all these decades, that feeling of pure delight as the season’s first white offerings float down from the sky. I know what snowflakes are, how they are formed and what brings them from the skies to earth; I have learned the science of it. But the science of it is not what delights me. What delights me is the magic. Magic owned the snow long before science tried to possess it.
It rained on Saturday so Attila decided to tackle the trim on the kitchen window. He installed the window the first year we lived in the house, and was under a lot pressure to get it done quickly and move on to the next pressing project on his list. He was never happy with how he finished it off though. So now that there are no crucial projects on the list he has had time to think it through and come up with a better plan. He first removed all the old trim, salvaging most of the wood to be sanded, repainted and reinstalled. Then he installed the new pieces of trim he had prepared for the project. By Sunday night the job was finished but for a few bits of filling and painting, which will probably be completed this week. It was a lot of work, but the result is worth the effort.
Sunday was unusual because we had visitors. Friends dropped by for a cup of tea and a chin wag around the kitchen table. They were in the area doing some measuring for an upcoming building project. When Henry was a teenager he worked with my Grandfather and remembers him well. We had a wonderful visit.
Last night the weather report predicted that the temperature would drop to –5 degrees Celsius. We decided to burn a second fire in the fireplace to ensure that the house did not cool substantially over the course of the night. Looking outside this morning, we found the temperature to be above 0 degrees, so it did not get as cold as predicted. It is very warm in here this morning and I am running around in bare feet. One fire will suffice for today I think.
I build the fires in the morning, a ritual I enjoy. We build a fire that will burn from the top down. The largest logs are placed at the bottom of the composition; the remaining large logs are laid on top of them in a grid, then a layer of crumpled newspaper, and finally small then medium pieces of kindling in a teepee formation at the very top. After all this is assembled, I open up the dampers, set the newspaper alight, close the door and settle into my chair beside Attila with a cup of steaming coffee.
What I like most about our morning fire is how it anchors me in the physical world. I am a person often lost in thought and subject to lengthy flights of fancy. Sitting in the flickering firelight, my thoughts stay close, seldom wandering from the warmth created in the here and now.
Our living area is on the second floor of the house, putting us up in the trees. Birds perch on the branches just outside the windows; they seldom notice me sitting beside them, watching them. We have windows on three sides of the large, open plan living space. When the wind blows briskly, as it does today, I can stand in the middle of the great room and almost feel the wind in the movement of the tree branches that surround me on three sides. It is much like living in a tree house. I am at home here.
Today I have been working on converting an Arlo Guthrie LP (The Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys) from analog to digital format. Arlo has been with me all day, here in the trees; we have been singing and I have brought out my Bodhrán to play. When the music stops occasionally for editing, I hear the wind bluster the trees into a swaying dance. A pleasant day.
The second sourdough starter experiment seems to be faring well. There are lots of bubbles in the mixture and it smells yeasty and a little sour. This morning I added 1/4 cup of unbleached bread flour, and 1/4 cup water, then gave it all a good stir. Will do the same tomorrow and then on Wednesday will add some of it to my bread dough. I do enjoy a science project, but at the same time I do not want to waste the ingredients.
|RECIPES :: Cast
The Top-Down Fire
"We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand... and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it is too late."
Marie Beyon Ray
Pressure 102.4 kPa / falling
Visibility 15 km
Dew Point 3.6°C
Wind WSW 17 km/h gust 32 km/h
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