Veterans aren’t supposed to let this happen. I did the same this Winter morning as I’ve done for decades, that is prepare this evening’s fire at the living room hearth. Later this day when it’s time to gather ‘round, just the strike of a match will result in a roaring fire.
We burn wood that is at least three years cured, so when the faggots are lit, believe me, the flames roar. That wood is so dry, it’s just itching to catch fire.
What’s that ?
Yes, faggots. Pardon my Scottish heritage. It’s the Scottish word for kindling. We collect faggots years in advance, too. The kindling has to be bone dry, also. How would the fire take off with wet faggots? Won’t happen.
Meanwhile, back to the veteran fire builder. It is an art form, you know ? There is straightforward technique that yields the same result with every fire, but it must start with DRY wood.
First, I’ll call it the channel, using two pieces that have been purposely split so they are flat . Their dimensions might be a rough 2”x 8” placed on their edge at the front and back of the fireplace grate. They form a V-shaped channel in the hearth, neatly confining three or four crumpled up balls of newspaper.
On top of the paper place four, maybe five faggots. On top of that place two or three not bulky pieces of firewood. Voila, this evening’s fire now needs but a match.
So what happened to the fire preparer this morning ? Well, I was faked out by the oldest trick in the book. There was no flame, no visible smoke left from last night’s fire. No nothing! So, I went about building tonight’s fire.
But, still obscured in that pile of ash were glowing embers not even visible, ready to wield their insipid treachery. They did.
With the damper closed, and I having left the room, those embers wrought their haughty presence . I returned to a room filled with smoke that no mortal would ever dare to breathe. Opening two doors to allow the smoke to billow away was my reminder that it was a balmy 20 degrees outside.
The day wasn’t off to a good start.