Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 58: Make a Fire

Day 58: Make a Fire, originally uploaded by susanvg.

This equipment stands by my fireplace, and, as with everything, it carries memories and stories. The fireplace tools were made by an iron worker in the village near my parents' country place. Hand crafted, they carry his signature in metal. Memories and legacies are carried in many ways. The bellows are close to sixty years old, having coaxed many a fire into life at the cottage. We had a large stone fireplace and on winter nights would burn very large logs. At times, the heat near the fireplace pushed us back, but the kitchen, being far back was always chilly, to my mother's chagrin. When we would arrive on a Friday evening, the first task was to build the fire. My brother and I would carry the smaller pieces of wood up from the basement on a wooden ladder; my father hauled the logs that seemed like whole tree trunks to me. As the heat in the house had been turned down all week, the bedrooms were cold, so my father would warm a metal grate in the fire and then run to our bedrooms and slide it between the sheets, making crawling into bed more bearable. I remember it taking a long time before the bed really felt warm. When the house was sold, I brought the bellows with me. The metal nose falls out easily; the leather straps wore away long ago. But they can still pump air and fan the coals in my fireplace bringing the warmth of those memories to life.


  1. These bellows look alive.
    In Australia we don't have extreme cold. A long time ago when my husband and I lived in upstate New York (Jordanville), we weren't prepared for the winter and hadn't cut firewood early enough, so it was green and also wet. This made smoke fill our kitchen as it escaped from gaps in the fat pipe that came from the stove and dominated the room.

  2. Great photo and a wonderful story to go along with it.