now is around the time of year when i start saying on a daily basis, "i wish i had a fireplace". and wondering what it feels like to sweat.
yesterday, whilst sitting in synagogue and then at home fasting, i had my first bout of the year with ice hands and nose. i think i have super shitty circulation, and that causes my hands and nose (and, if not encased in socks & shoes, feet) to turn into pieces of ice. sometimes i put my hand on my stomach just to shock myself with how cold it is.
either way, it's times like this--before the heat comes on in our apartment, and while i still have short-sleeved shirts in my ready-to-wear pile--that i hate living in park slope. because lots of people in park slope have fireplaces, and they taunt me with the fragrance of burning wood and images of warmth.
when i was growing up in atlanta we had a fireplace, and i was constantly asking my parents if i could build a fire. many times i was told it was simply too warm outside for a fire. (for the record, i don't think 68 is warm.) when i lived on 7th ave and 1st street in a hellhole above starbucks, we had a fireplace, but all it did was sit gaping and useless--it was capped.
two, no, three fireplaces burn in my heart when i smell that smell of heated brick...make that four...in order of impressiveness:
1) the north rim of the grand canyon.
i'm pretty sure this is the fireplace to end all fireplaces. although i was young and smaller when i was there, i'm still confident that it was roughly ten feet high and about 18 feet wide and they burned redwood logs in it. it faces outside, onto a terrace which is populated by rocking chairs. my dad and i sat out on a very clear, starry night and rocked and looked at the fire as it thrust its warmth out into the night air. the giantest fire i've ever seen. someday i will build my own.
2) my uncle's hunting camp
you're not allowed up without a member of the hunting club, which is truly unfortunate, because given the chance i would round up about 25 of my closest drinking buddies and tear this place up. it's a mish mosh of old furniture from members' houses, black & white photographs of ancestral hunters, bunk beds and a huge kitchen with, oh yes, a "beer fridge". but the focal point of the cabin is the fireplace, again vast, about four feet high and six wide, i'd say. not only is the fireplace huge, but being a hunting camp, the logs are big, burly, manly logs. the fire is encouraged to rage to just before the point it licks out of its cage and takes us all down. "beer fridge"
3) my aunt and uncle's house
this is much more along the lines of a regular fireplace, the only difference being that the firebox sticks out from the house, allowing for a much deeper than usual place to burn stuff. my uncle also rigged some thing that you open a sort of trap door and it pulls in air from outside, feeding the fire constantly with fresh o2. further, my uncle, a retired LIRR safety inspector, made the raddest log-holder-thingy ever out of railroad tracks. they are giant and solid and one day i will build a fire so great they will turn red. maybe. my aunt and uncle will let me start a fire when it's 68, because they keep thier air con at 50.
4) my great aunt's house in maine
my mother's aunt is amazing. she's travelled all over the goddamn place and owns two remarkable properties. she and a friend, many years ago, bought up a recently-abandoned resort in the tiniest town possible in maine. litterally, the town is a post office, which isn't even operational anymore. anyway, they kept one of the buildings and converted the downstairs from all bedrooms into a kitchen and living room, etc. (this was one of those seriously old school places that had a dining hall and a rec room (which is still standing) and various other building with just sleeping quarters.) and now she spends her summers there. we went there almost yearly for a lot of my childhood. the house only had heating in the kitchen and bathrooms, and since it was a summer resort, was certainly nowhere near insulated; but the fireplace's chimney ran up through the second floor and if you burned enough wood long enough, it would do a pretty fair job of taking the chill out of the air in the whole house. the fireplace is lovely brick and decorated with all sorts of random maine trinkets, but the greatest thing about it is how it was actually functional. it was necessary to build a fire in that thing, or we'd all be freezing.
so now i come home under my umbrella, kicking water onto my calves, hands 20 degress colder than the rest of my body, and i see whisps of smoke coming out of chimneys, and i smell that smell, and i wish i had a fireplace.