2018-01-24 / Editorials

Don Lively


I saw it.

I'm a witness.

It was here.

For about ten minutes.


I have to admit, after much cynicism about the way folks around these parts get so excited at the mere possibility of snowfall, the last couple of predictions of the white stuff got me sort of eager too. The fact is, I've been missing my adopted home Out West. Having lived in the Denver area for thirty years, I saw a lot of snow. We would get the fabled "100 year blizzard" about every five years. Denver averages over 60 inches of snow a year. In the three decades that I lived there I saw at least a dozen blizzards where the accumulation was measured on feet, not in inches.

So, when on two different occasions recently our weather guessers predicted snow, I let my hopes rise.

I miss snow.

I miss Colorado.

Alas, neither prognostication turned out to be correct for our area, though other parts of the state got measurable white stuff.

Not us.

But, what we did get for a few days was cold weather.

Cold weather around the wooded enclave makes me a happy boy.

Cold weather means that every day I can wear a different hoodie from my collection.

It means that the fire-ants and yellowjackets and, hopefully, the mosquitoes have gone wherever they go when it's frigid outside and, therefore, will not be tormenting me, at least temporarily.

It means that my wife will be making chili and vegetable soup and beef stew, all of which she does superbly.

But, to me, the best thing about cold weather is, fire.

Fire in the firepit and fire in the fireplaces.

Did I ever mention that I'm a bit of a pyromaniac?

I love staring at fire.

We've established here before that the old saying about firewood warming you twice, once when you split it and once when you burn it, is true. I'd submit that firewood actually warms you three times, if, like mine, your woodshed is a good distance from the house. The splint lengths of oak or sweetgum or hickory can also warm you when you haul it.

Recently, as I tucked a stack against my left arm and shoulder it took me back to "the old house", which is how we still refer to the rustic old clapboard and tin place where Daddy and Mama started out raising their brood. For most of the years that we lived there the house was heated by fireplaces in early winter and, once the real cold hit, by a huge pot bellied stove that Daddy moved from the tool shed once a year.

We rarely had to cut and split firewood because my Granddaddy worked part time at a sawmill. A couple of times a winter he would deliver us a dump truck load of ends and scraps from the mill. It was already cut into lengths short enough to fit in the stoves or the fireplaces. We never bothered to stack it. When we needed wood in the house we'd just take it from the huge pile in the backyard.

Those years are when I became a lover of flames.

I remember all of the family being gathered in the living room watching some TV show on one of the three channels that we got. But, instead of watching I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners I'd be staring at, or sometimes poking at, the fire in the fireplace till Daddy would make me leave it alone.

To this day I still prefer watching fires to watching TV.

It's true.

Last week, just before the cold snap hit, my bride was called out of state on family business so I was left to ramble around the house solo. I hauled several days supply of firewood onto the north porch and spent every evening of the week mostly in the bedroom with a cozy fire to keep me company.

I read three novels.

I tinkered with blurbs and ideas for my own future novel.

I spent hours gazing at the fire thinking about ideas for future columns.

I never turned on the TV.

A snapping, popping fire is much more entertaining to me that CNN or American Idol. (Is that show still on?)

Anyway, you get the idea.

I like fire.

And now, if you will excuse me, my coals need stoking.

Have a good day, and a warm night.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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