Having a cup of hot chocolate in front of a fire sounds good for a cold day. The seasonal tradition helps spread the warmth that defines the holidays. Perfect for any evening, imagine getting cozy in a living room or den in front of a fireplace.
You’re about to relax on a sofa with a friend. “Light My Fire” by The Doors plays in the background. It’s hard to get along with the intolerably loud cackle of fire that could be mistaken for a “pop-pop” in the car. Ash, soot and smoke fill the space. Sparks fly everywhere. The feeling of heat that invades your toes should worry you. Who deserves to be burned naked? Forgot to open the flue and close the grate?
Building a fire is a labor of love and creativity that is well worth it. There is a long ignition procedure. Airflow is crucial. First, check and make sure there is a properly functioning chimney and chimney damper if not. Gather the materials needed to light the fire: kindling, firewood (or a Duraflame log), matches. Don’t forget the set of tools: poker, shovel, broom and tongs.
It’s a dirty job. Your clothes will smell of campfire smoke. You will feel rather Canadian. I find fireplaces both fascinating and frightening. However, sometimes it can be hard to imagine the Hallmark great forever loving you such wonderful Instagram moments.
Are the fireplaces outdated? At one time almost every house had one. Very good, if you are looking for charm more than a source of warmth. A real estate agent or interior designer may say, “Oh no, that decor never goes out of style” or “Oh, we have new, cutting-edge efficiency models” when describing a fireplace. An elder might respond, “No thanks, just turn up the thermostat.” They are used to hearing the cling-clang of a heating radiator. An alternative is a plug-in electric fireplace; Clean and odorless, the simulated flame heater works like a hair dryer. Make sure you know where the circuit breakers are to avoid having a heart attack on your electric bill. The next song on the playlist is “Play with Fire” by the Stones.
Digress once in a while, but not very often, it’s easy to stare into a fire and fly away. Here we fly over a city, the flames below sway like autumn trees, igniting poetry, art and music. The horizon reveals a retro rock and roll jukebox.
The year is 1967. Now dig this little gem, “Fire” from The Jimi Hendrix Experience. “I have only one burning desire, let me stand beside your fire.” In 1968 Arthur Brown’s The Crazy World cried out, “I am the god of hell and I bring you Fire!” I will take you to burn. A different accent from Harry Nilsson on a 1971 album, “You may leap into the fire, but you’ll never be free, no no.” By following the advice of these musicians, you are well on your way to delving deeper into the 14th century and discovering Dante’s Inferno.
The Divine Comedy shows darkness and revelation beyond the Nine Circles of Hell. During the 1500s, it is possible to examine in depth the artwork The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. At this point, you’re probably out of meds and engulfed in flames. Stravinsky’s 1919 Firebird Suite nurtures your adorable unique sense of flair. In the kitchen, a whistle comes from the stove, you let a kettle boil.
For over 200 years, child labor was common practice in England and other European countries. It is to stun what was socially acceptable in the past. Young people crawled along chimneys in dirty and dangerous conditions to remove creosote. As coal took on the role of firewood, there was an increase in thick soot buildup, a fire hazard. Dangerous fumes entered houses if the chimneys were not clean.
Young Victorian chimney sweeps fell victim to these deadly traps, often getting stuck while cleaning chimneys. Some fireplaces had 9×9 inch gaps. Climbers had to “polish it” and crawl naked using knees and elbows. Many have perished. The older masters worked the guardians of the “poor law”. They spoke with authority and sought apprentices from poor parents who sold their children or found orphans as young as four years old. The practice became illegal in 1875. With today’s labor rules, such a ritual now seems unthinkable. Chimneys have burned for generations, but no one seemed to notice the lost childhoods of yesterday.
On December 24, 1966, the WPIX in New York had a stroke of programming genius. The TV station aired a three-hour, 17-second angle loop of a Gracie Mansion fireplace, the first of its kind. A sublime creation, the Yule log wins an award of excellence in the hall of fame of pop culture. Here we find all the surreal elements of the holidays. Easy-listening music from artists like Percy Faith and others in the genre naturally lends itself to the extra viewing energy needed.
The Yule Log eventually died out, canceled in 1990. Following several post-9/11 requests, the nostalgia made a successful return in 2001 with a restored version. If you happen to be recovering from a lung transplant, watching smoke-free TV is a great comfort. Now you can check out copy videos online all year round. So pull up a chair by the fire and think deeply. For instance; Is it me, or does it feel weird to use your cell phone to look at a fireplace?