The Fireplace


copyright 2007
by Lin Stone

Well-meaning Euro-merican teachers taught me to despise open fires, the fireplace and the pot-bellied stove.  I admit it didn't take much to turn the tide even while the proof of the pudden was staring me in the face all the time.

"Freeze to death on one side and burn up on the other," they said and all their adherents chorused after them in the same tune.

Sounds awful, doesn't it, kind of like roasting in hell?


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Then I went up to explore a large ranch and came back cold and wet to the antique cabin.  There was no water, no electric, no central heat.  There wasn't even a Gameboy in sight.

A fireplace was my only resource and there were a thousand acres of wood outside.  Obviously it wasn't going to toast me up with central heat, but I remembered how to use the old double-bit axe of my youth and I hurried outside to chop wood before the light outside faded into darkness wherein no man worketh. 

I know people calling themselves woodsmen who immediately begin hacking at a big tree to bring it down.  Then they chop the trunk up, throwing away the small limbs so they can feverishly begin splitting up the trunk.

Native Americans are lazier than that.  Why waste your energy chopping down a big tree when dead branches are lying all over the forest?  Throw away the little twigs?  Heaven forbid!  I have spent weeks in the forest and burned nothing but leaves with a few twigs thrown in accidentally.

This particular evening I hauled in tubs full of leaves and dumped them into the fireplace.  A little fire was started and I hurried back outside for an armload of twigs.  These were cast casually over the top of the leaves. 

I warmed my hands over the flames, first one side, then the other, then I hurried out the door and gathered enough dead limbs to fill the firebox.  The fire was going nicely.  The whole cabin was toasty warm and the fireplace was the center of attention.  Back out I went, this time with the axe.  This time I cut some of the larger limbs so that they fit the fireplace and these I brought back in to lay on the fire.

There wasn't a trace of smoke anywhere.  Somebody sure had known how to build a chimney.  I heated up my supper while the heat from the flames toasted my face red with radiant warmth.


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Have you ever tried to cook supper over a floor vent?  You may get that leg of lamb warm enough to eat before you starve to death. 

It isn't true what they say either; you don't freeze to death on one side and burn up on the other at the fireplace.  I admit it is true that you CAN burn up on one side and freeze on the other IF you don't have any sense.  But there's really no need of it. 

People with a little bit of sense can rotate their body a little bit at a time until the whole of it is toasty warm.  People with even more sense can turn their body so that a great rush of heat is applied right where it feels best while murmuring, OOOH, and AHHH! which seems to increase the sense of pleasure to its highest degree.

People with an extraordinary high I.Q will sit back and let their feet soak up the heat and carry it throughout the body until ALL their juices are sputtering at just the right temperature.

As my had lolled on my pillow I breathed deeply and recalled those cold winter morns when I swam the river and walked four miles to a wood-framed house beside the bus stop.  I was welcome there and the temperature inside was just right for human habitation.  But you know what?  There wasn't any place in that whole house that I could snuggle up to and take the chill out of my bones.  You can't even get your feet warm in a hurry with central heat. 

How many other times had I walked into a warm house and could not get warm to save my life because it had central heat and air?  Oh Gee!  Oh Gee!  Stop these bones from chattering!  Give me some heat I can throw my back to and let it roast.  I don't care if it burns the shirt off my back if my bones will just stop chattering.

Oh Gee. 
Oh Gee. 
Oh Gee. 

It is the primitive pleasures
of the open fireplace for me.

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the end

About the author: Independently less than wealthy,
Lin Stone writes how to articles to help the writing trade.
His first book, HOW TO BUY LAND AT TAX SALES, is so good
it is still selling after eight years. Lin's latest contributions
are posted on

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Pleasures of the open fire: The Fireplace Revisited.

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