December 11, 2011

Wine Party

The aluminum fire bowl was banished to the basement the first time it was used.

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.


  1. Laurrie, that sounds like the most perfect evening. Obviously early winter is the best time to sit around the fire bowl.

    Love that side table. It really is a work of art and I can understand why you wouldn't want to change it. I'm sure you will find something suitable in the mass of tree carnage left behind by that storm. Can't wait to see what you find.

  2. That stump is beautiful!! A table would be perfect between two of the chairs. Maybe if you find a couple of cool chunks of wood, you could find a local craftsman to create a table for you. Since there's no rush with winter coming, the finished table would be fun to look forward to. It would also be unique and a wonderful highlight of your gravel garden.

  3. Your drink holder is beautiful with those turkey tails on it. Your evening of wine, cheese and a fire sounds so romantic.

  4. Laurrie, How nice to hear you're still enjoying your garden in the evening. I love your unique side table - the colors in the last photo are fantastic.

  5. The side table couldn't be any more beautiful if anyone tried. Sounds like a delightful winter evening outdoors!

  6. Wonderful! At first I thought I'd clicked on an old post, but NO! In December, you had a romantic bonfire with your hubby! The little side table is so perfect for you-as a tree lover!
    Perhaps this will be it?? Maybe I won't have Snowmaggeden and you won't be Cold and Stormy?

  7. Bernie, Thanks, it truly was a lovely evening. But cold.

    Tammy, It would be great to find a craftsman to make a table. I think I know what I want it to look like, now I just have to scavenge the materials!

    Lisa, Turkey tails! I knew there was a common name for this type of fungus, thanks for supplying it.

    Debbie, Thanks. Sometimes what nature provides is perfect --- better than we could design.

    Sweetbay, I love the fact that the side table stump is perfect, but I really like that it was free : )

    Sissy, dream on... snow and cold are coming. Even a warm romantic fire and a glass of wine won't keep you warm or me toasty with what is coming. . . .

  8. Ahhh, Laurrie, romance lives in your garden. A fine pairing, the fire and fungus, adding up to a lovely story well told. And photographed.

  9. Lee, thanks. "Fire and fungus" --- love your phrase, loved the evening!

  10. Ooooh, I so miss a fire. Love the idea of a fire bowl, and that stump, gorgeous!

  11. Laurrie, your husband is a sweet romantic! Your gravel garden is lovely, and I can imagine sitting there, enjoying the evening by fire glow. The cottonwood stump is a treasure, a true work of natural art!

    BTW, I wish you the best regarding the American holly!

  12. Deborah at Kilbourne Grove, Thanks for coming by for a visit!

    Deborah at Deb's Garden, Thank you, it's nice to know I have a work of art in my garden. And thanks for the encouragement about the holly!


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