Put another log on the fire

Published 6:12 pm Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Another of our children has flown the coop, and each time one goes, a few pieces of our furniture wind up leaving with them. This time there was a U-Haul involved instead of a mere backseat and trunk. That meant serious scavenging, the kind that led to a grandparents’ attic. One of the items he scored there was an old rocking chair with a rounded back and a dark cherry finish. Before he left, I made sure he knew its backstory: Both of my grandmothers went in together and purchased it at Perkins in 1956. It was a gift for my mother, who was expecting her first child.

When I finished the history lesson, the moving one nodded, then shoved his new piece of property between a rug he found on Craigslist and a coffee table he made out of barn lumber.

So the rocker — the one that family furniture scavengers have declined for years — is gone. Poof. Sayonara. It’s funny how old furniture takes on heirloom status when someone pulls it out of storage and puts it in a Virginia “flat” against a brick accent wall. Now I’m not so sure we should have let it go.

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I have a lot of memories of that chair. I grew up in one of those 1970s ranch-style homes with a true brick fireplace and plenty of winter days to enjoy it. That rocker was the kind you could scoot up next to the foot-high hearth and rock a whole day away in. With no Nintendo or social media to distract me, I went around the world in it, reading every Nancy Drew book I could find on the shelves of the Senatobia Public Library. 

That was a long time ago. These days, there’s a glider in our family room, but it doesn’t scoot. I pull a rocker-less chair up to our hearth-less fireplace and check email instead of what’s happening in River Heights. But I’m having to fight against public opinion to do even that.

Some people in my family think it’s time for a wood insert, or even (gasp) gas logs. They say old-fashioned wood burning fireplaces are inefficient, and they are sick, sick, sick of cutting, splitting and hauling wood. They even had the gall to pull out this flimsy faux-fact: Negative efficiency results from the fire sucking heated air from inside the home to fuel combustion. This air is then vented up the chimney, which pulls cold outside air into the home through the small cracks around windows and doors.

The nerve.

I let the men have their say, but everybody knows an open fire doesn’t just change the temperature of a room. It changes how it feels. It warms the soul and lends a coziness that the most efficient heat pump or cleverly constructed gas logs on earth will never be able to match. Ever.

But my guys can’t seem to get past all the work involved in producing that ember glow, and I am sympathetic. Really, I am. After all, we’ve lost three lumberjacks to new horizons and fireplace-less homes. My husband, for the most part, now stands solo in the assembly line of cord production. But hey, it’s good exercise, right? And I bring in wood from the patio. Take out ashes. Expend lots of energy trying to start fires.

“Look,” I tell them, “I’m a simple woman. I don’t ask for fancy cars or jewelry or trips to Hawaii. (Well, maybe once). I just like a nice fire. Plain. Simple. And started by 7:30 every morning, please.”

I think that clear line of logic has managed to stave them off for another year. Yeah, I think so. Meanwhile, I’m putting another log on the fire. Tonight I may even pull that glider over and grab a good book.

Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com. Follow her on twitter at @kimhenderson319.