For six months of the year we make a ritual of laying and lighting a fire in the fireplace and sitting around in the evenings and on weekends. We begin our fire ritual on the 1st really cold October day. We have swivel chairs on either side of our fireplace with a reading table in between and we tend to sit and read, talk and relax, and gaze into the flames. We keep our house cool in the winter so the warmth of the fire brings us all together. We often move the books off the table and eat supper in front of the fire with our children.
Words from Alexandra Stoddard:
My first memory of visiting my Godmother in Framingham, Massachsetts, when I was five, was sleeping in the guest room in a high mahogany four-poster bed that faced a beautifully carved mantel, there was a crackling fire in the fireplace. I felt so utterly grown up. Next to the hearth with a shiny brass bucket full of pinecones that had been dipped in wax. The cones release reds, greens and blues into the flames. I can still remember the crackle and the woodsy, smoky smells and the heavenly feel of cool sheets and the creak of the bed as I looked across at the grown-up fire in my bedroom.
After Christmas, cut up your Christmas tree branches into hand-size sprigs of pine and store them in a huge wicker basket by the fire. A few bunches tossed into the flames makes a wonderful crackling noise and smells heavenly. Throw a few orange peels into the fire to make you think of a Florida citrus grove. Santa Fe, New Mexico, smells of pinon wood, which is burned in all the fireplaces in the town. I bought some pinon incense and burned a small cone while I sat by the fire, and it transported me to Santa Fe, bringing to mind all those nice memories of a trip to the Southwest.