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So You Think You Want a Fireplace

Story ID:5707
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Tantallon Nova Scotia Canada
Year:1994
Person:Me
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I was just a boy, but when I saw a show on television with a family gathered around
a fireplace, I knew I wanted one when I had my own house. They usually showed a
romantic scene with a beautiful couple curled in front of a roaring fire or a family playing
games and having fun with that ever-present, cozy fire burning in the background.

It looked so relaxing. I grew up thinking I had to have a fireplace: a place to cuddle
with my wife, enjoy a glass of wine and set the mood for those romantic winter evenings. In
my mind, I heard the snow, sleet and hail rattling against the windows, as the wind howled
through the trees. I imagined my future wife and I cuddled together, toasty and warm. We’d
stare at the burning logs and hold each other as our children slept safely in their beds.

Not once did the programs on TV show how difficult it was to keep that fire
burning.

One year we got our fireplace, but those nights of cuddling were far from reality.

I remember the first year we had it. I ordered a cord of wood, cut to length, but
round. I planned to do my own splitting to save a few dollars and get my winter exercise at
the same time. I figured I'd get a big axe, split wood and by spring I would look like a
lumber jack.

That is what I thought!

After the first winter, I was nearly crippled. I was splitting a log one day and missed

it altogether. The axe hit the frozen ground between my legs. The shock wave that rippled
up my arm brought tears to my eyes. Three years and four cortisone shots later, my elbow
still caused me pain.

If you want a fireplace, then this is how your winter will go. I call it “Fireplace
Aerobics.”


1. Buy one cord of wood.
2. Lug wood to basement.
3. Split kindling.
4. Carry arm load of wood up the stairs.
5. Light fire.
6. Light fire again - (Failed first time).
7. Light fire again.
8. Sit down, enjoy for twenty minutes.
9. Feed fire with another log - (repeat 30 times).
10. Out of wood? Get more from basement.
11. Feed fire one last time and go to bed.
12. Wake up, relight fire.
13. Relight again.
14. Clean dust from household furniture.
15. Repeat steps 4 to 14 for 12 days.
16. Clean ashes from fireplace.
17. Clean chimney.
18. Dust furniture again.
19. Clean fireplace glass... well do what you can.
20. Repeat steps 4 to 19 until out of wood.
21. Order more wood.
22. Lug to basement.
23. Repeat steps 4 to 22.
24. Call fire department, (you forgot step 17).
25. Repeat steps 4 to 24 till winter is over.
26. Sell house.
27. Buy propane or electric heated house.
28. Live there for three years.
29. Miss fireplace.
30. Build one.
31. Go to step one.

Following this routine, winter quickly passes.

Did I mention you’ll get in shape as well?

Michael T. Smith