Gosh it’s cold tonight. I’m not a fan of the cold, the rain, the wind or anything remotely chilly. Except perhaps an Irish whiskey with water on ice. As a kid we would jump on frozen puddles on the way to school, a thick layer of ice covered the tops, waiting for us to smash em’. The frosts were harsh in Clunes and the grass would stay white for hours after the sun was up. We would run through the icy grass listening for the crunching blades under our feet. Granted it’s not as cold as those mornings back then, or as cold as it’s been here in Melbourne recently, or probably going to get in the near future, but I’m bloody cold right now. My toes are icy in my socks, and my fingers are about to snap off as I tap on the keyboard. The nana rug across my lap just ain’t cutting the mustard either, and I’ve just cranked up the central heating a degree, of which I will tell you now, I fucking dislike. What sort of heater doesn’t have somewhere you can park your arse on and toast, right? This is the first house we have ever lived in with central heating, and I must say, I am not a fan. Yeah it keeps the house at a comfortable level, but it’s just not the same as a wood fire, or gas heater where you can lift your skirt or nighty up and roast ya bare arse… Go on, tell me you’ve never done that! I burnt my arse on a gas heater when I was a teenager, I may have been somewhat intoxicated and part naked when it happened, but the blister it left was not pleasant on my backside.
I grew up in the heat of a pot belly stove. A roaring steel cylinder, full of coals that glowed red when we had it stoked to the max. Mum would burn through a tonne of wood in the blink of an eye. Keeping the fire going was our job too, along with lighting it. To this day I can light a fire with just about anything and keep it going. I can split kindling and wood easily and actually love to chop it. It’s a little bit of ‘home’ when I’m splitting wood up the river and tossing it on the fire. There’s something wholesome and natural about it, and it just feels good to be around it. The smell of fresh-cut wood is something else. Even the smell of the chainsaw has a gut warming effect on me.
Standing around a campfire has to be one of the most pleasurable experiences there is. Watching the flames lick into the dark, and sparks float into the black night, its something really special. It’s mesmerizing and captivating. Sitting by the fire up the river with my family and friends can be a silent affair at times. All of us happy to sit in silence, kids included, just watching the flames dance and the wood burn, warping and charring, breaking and changing into faces and shapes, perhaps an animal or other inanimate object. The bed of coals glowing white-hot under the massive river red gum logs on top. Flames leaping into the night, cracking and popping, breaking the comfortable silence that lays in and around the circle of chairs enveloping the campfire. It’s the best place to be… unless the smoke is blowing your way.
I miss the direct heat of a fire in our house. That comfort, warmth and smell it brings to a home. I probably don’t miss the wood stacking, bringing in wood and fire stoking that goes with it, but really, it’s worth the trouble in my eyes. Maybe one day, I’ll get my own pot belly stove to stoke? One day…
Make sure you turn the teapot twice clockwise and once anticlockwise!