This morning I have at least sixteen things to do before 2:00, and I’ve only managed to smear my hands with soot. I need a new plan. I decide to begin again and go out into the snow for fresh kindling. The wind bites my face and the snow squeaks under my feet. I see some twigs sticking out of a snowdrift and pull out a dry branch. I snap it into stove lengths as I walk back to the kitchen door, thinking about the snow. The cold has made it stony and a little cruel, but when it first fell a week ago it was lovely. I was out at the First Friday celebration in Monticello, making my way around the square with my friend. We each had a wine glass and had a little taste of wine, and maybe a bite of cheese from each shop. It was a festive evening as we visited from store to store, seeing friends from the community in a new context. We talked about travel with our sons' teachers, we discussed grandchildren and drank sparkling grape juice in a toy store. We’d step out into the night and be dusted with snow as we walked a few doors down. Bulky snowflakes would sift down on us, and it was just cold enough that they’d land on the sleeve of my fleece and stay whole for a while. I can’t get tired of examining a snow crystal: tiny, perfect three-dimensional worlds. I could get lost in them if they would stay long enough, but suddenly they melt and it’s time to go into the next shop.
Now I go back inside and begin again with my fire. I pull the charred logs out of the stove and lay them on the brick hearth. They are smoking slightly, so I hurry to crumple paper and pile kindling over it. I lay the logs over the kindling and reach for a match, but before I can strike it I see that the coals of my almost-fire have ignited the paper. I watch through the open stove door until the kindling catches. I shut the doors and go to wash the soot from my hands. I grab my coffee and sit in front of the stove. By now the kindling is crackling and I peek in to see that the logs have begun to burn. The heat warms my face and I sip my coffee and stir my soup. Sometimes a fire just likes to be watched.
Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is interested in community and the balance of work and life. She still has a few kittens who need homes.