Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fireplaces I Have Known and Loved

It's been quite a while since I've lived in a home with a real fireplace. I have a strong attraction to and love of fireplaces, so one would think that a fireplace would be at the top of my list in any house I lived in. A fireplace is a priority, but I don't always get what I want. So, my current home does not have a fireplace and I have been complaining about that for more than a few years.

I never thought I'd enjoy a digital fireplace. You know the ones that the cable service offers every year during the winter holidays or that you can purchase on DVD. But desperation will make a person try all kinds of things they swore they'd never do. So, here I am sitting at my laptop beside a digital fireplace complete with the snap, crackle and pop of the the real thing. I can adjust the height of the flames from a roaring to flickering. I am amazed  that these digital flames are almost as mesmerizing as real ones. Of course, there isn't the wonderful smell of burning logs.  Though for a moment, I thought I'd had an olfactory hallucination, because I swear I smelled the sweet, pungent odor of wood smoke.

Sitting beside my digital fireplace, sipping hot chocolate and listening to the original Winter Solstice album from Windham Hill caused me to recall fireplaces from my past that I have often longed for in the dark and cold of winter.

My parents had a lovely brick fireplace which they only built a fire in at Christmas. Still I have fond memories of it and the anticipation I felt when I saw my father bringing in the logs and kindling. I didn't willingly budge from my place on the floor in front of the hearth until the last embers had died away.

An old house in Arden that I frequented had an immense stone fireplace with an elborate mantlepiece in which a former occupant had carved phrases in Elvish script. We had some memorable nights by that hearth. The room was large enough for dancing and we passed many an evening folk dancing with the fire dancing along with us.

The fireplace memories I cherish most are from an old, old house where I lived for a time in the tiny village of Black Cat. There were fireplaces in every room, even in the basement. The fireplaces in the dining room, kitchen and basement were huge, almost tall enough to stand in.  But I loved the fireplaces in the bedrooms the most. There is nothing like sitting in bed, drinking orange and clove tea, reading and watching the flames. That is also the house where I learned why people in the past wore wool stockings and nighcaps to bed. That was the draftiest house I ever lived in.  In retrospect, those drafts felt like the life breath of the house and made me feel as if I were inside a living, breathing being.

There was a time when fireplaces were the heart of the home. The place where family and friends gathered not only for warmth, but for "intimate" fellowship. It's been said that the television has become our hearth. I truly hope that isn't so. I'll take a fireplace any day.

And, I'm hoping 2010 is the year I get a real fireplace!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ring Out Solstice Bells!

Winter Solstice 2009

The Solstice Sun rises
bright and strong

The battle between
the Holly and Oak kings
is won

On and on the wheel turns
minute by minute
the days
become long

Light is reborn!

Copyright 2009 JM Reinbold

On this Solstice Day I have vowed to embark on two "journeys." One, to re-read "The Dark Is Rising" story series by Susan Cooper, which I will begin today, and two, to begin preaparations to embark on a Hallowquest beginning on the Spring Equinox. As I journey through Susan's Cooper wonderful "Arthurian" series, I will share some of the story's highlights here. I will also share some of my preparations, adventures and insights as I prepare for and quest through Britain's inner landscape of Logres.

Solstice light and blessings to all!

** The picture symbolizing the Winter Solstice is the "Rebirth" card from the gorgeous Sacred Circle Tarot by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason. You can use the link to Sacred Circle on the main blog page to visit Anna Franklin's website and experience more of her wonderful work.