December 11, 2011
When we bought it many summers ago, I laid a few pieces of firewood in the bowl, and fired it up that evening in anticipation of cocktails on the patio on a summer's eve. Firelight, drinks, conversation and balmy breezes laced with sweet wood smoke.
Within minutes, as thick smoke billowed into the open kitchen windows, all I could hear was roaring shouts, windows slamming shut, and Jim's helpful but forceful suggestion to move that damn thing or put it out. The fire bowl has been in the basement for six years now.
So imagine my surprise when he brought it up a few nights ago. He placed it among the chairs in our new gravel garden. He got some firewood at the store, and spent the afternoon cutting it up into chunks small enough for the bowl.
As darkness fell (4:30 this time of year), he brought out a tray of wine, cheese and crackers, and we had a wine party around the fire on a cold evening.
It was chilly out, and it is densely dark in December in the early evening. But the firelight danced, the aroma of wood smoke was delightful, and the stars twinkled above. It was very romantic. The air was crisp. The wine was fortifying, and it was all so enchanting.
Windows in the house were shut tight against winter, so smoke from the fire swirled around us without any threat of inside invasion.
There was only one glitch. There was no place to put the tray of food and wine. Years ago I rescued a slice of a cottonwood tree stump from the side of the road (there's a story to that, posted here).
It is the perfect rustic side table next to the chairs, and you can set a glass on it. But after years of sitting in a wet garden spot before I moved it out to the sunny gravel area, it has fungus growing in beautiful patterns all over it. I could not have arranged the overlapping scattering any better or more elegantly. It has weathered into a work of art.
With the fungus on top, you can't put much on it. So we nestled the tray of goodies in the gravel at our feet, and all was well, as long as we were careful not to step on the cheese platter in the dark.
I do need to find something to use for a flat table to hold a tray, though. There is no way I would scrape those beautiful rings of sculpture off the top of the cottonwood stump.
I'll have to scour the woods and see what I can find. So many trees came down in the freak storm we had at the end of October, and utility crews have been running their chainsaws for weeks now. I'm sure there are treasures out there that I can salvage.