Don Jackson, December 2011
Former host of one of Canada's most popular radio shows spanning three decades.
Author, broadcaster, storyteller.

Hospitality consists in a little fire, a little food, and an immense quiet.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I was young I loved Miss Ella. Her fine high instep curved into her white canvas shoes in summer with the voluptuous smoothness of a winter snowbank. She had a laced parasol and was so full of birdlike animation that she teetered on her feet when she spoke to you–sometimes she had meals with us and I remember her twittering about on our hearth after supper, dodging the popping bits of blue flame from our bituminous coal, believing ardently that 'one' could keep fit by standing up twenty minutes after eating.
Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, published in 1931 by Charles Scribner's Sons, and featured in the January 1971 issue of 'Ladies' Home Journal'
I may not remember the exact shape of the fireplace, but I remember the shape of love on your faces as we popped corn, or dreamed there together
An excerpt from a poem by Neil Abbott called “What Home Means”. It originally appeared in Sunshine Magazine. It was reprinted in the January 1st, 1980 issue of the Enquirer

There were many superstitions concerning fire.

One must never use firewood from a tree that has been struck by lightning as this exposes the house to similar attack.
An excerpt from the book, 'Superstition and the Superstitious' by Eric Maple, published in 1971 by A. S. Barnes and Company, New Jersey. (Pg 153)

You can buy three-hour fire logs at gas marts and supermarkets around the country, but there is no aroma that says home quite like what comes with real wood burning and sparking in the hearth.

Where I live, more new homes are being built with gas fireplaces. I have a wood-burning fireplace that can serve more than one purpose during a power failure. I can boil water and cook food. I can also use the hearth for warmth and light. I prefer the smell of wood smoke and my fuel consists of the amount of wood I have stored for the winter. A past issue of the 'Old Farmer's Almanac' says that you should

When I visited a friend on the Florida panhandle, I was surprised to see that his house was built with a wood-burning fireplace. Yes, I did say Florida, but the northern area he lives in can be cool during the winter months.

I can think of one magical place where a fire was most welcome. It was Middle-Earth during the time of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins'

Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up probably somebody lighting a wood-fire and he thought of plundering dragons settling on his quiet hill and kindling it all to flames. He shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr. Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill, again.
An excerpt from "The Hobbit' by J. R. R. Tolkien

Sara Teasdale wrote:

Nothing shall tempt me from my fire-lit house. And I shall find at night a friendly ember And make my life of what I can remember.
Many profound thoughts have come while gazing at the burning logs.
'Man's Life' by the Venerable Bede
The life of man seems to me like the flight of a sparrow through the hall wherein you are sitting at supper in the winter time, a warm fire lighted on the hearth while storms rage without. The sparrow flies in at one door, tarries for a moment in the light and heat, and then flying forth through another door vanishes into the wintry darkness whence it had come. So tarries man for a brief space, but of what went before or what is to follow, we know not.
An excerpt from the 'Treasure Chest', edited by Charles L. Wallis, and published in 1965 by Harper & Row, Publishers

It appeared on our television sets some years back and has now become a staple during the holiday season. Of course, it is 'The Fireplace Channel'. It began with a small television outlet that decided to broadcast an endless loop of burning logs sputtering and spitting in a fireplace. I thought it was a joke and would never catch on.  I assumed that no one would sit and stare at a fireplace on TV for hours on end, but I was wrong; it became an instant hit. Most television providers now feature a 'Fireplace Channel'. Even though it lacks the heat and aroma provided by a real hearth, viewers tune in every year at Christmas and throughout the holidays to watch. Even just the sight of a fireplace can be comforting to those without a hearth, but this kind of fire would make a lot of us cry.

This was reported by L. M. Boyd and featured in the 'Notes From All Over' column of the May 1979 issue of the 'Reader's Digest':

The Bank of England's printing works is heated in large part by the paper money it burns every day.

I've always liked this analogy. It first appeared in print almost three decades ago.

Building a good marriage and building a good log fire are similar in many ways. You build a fire with paper and kindling and it goes up in a blaze. Then the blaze burns down and you wonder if the fire will fizzle out. You blow on it and fan it for all you are worth. Sometimes smoke almost chokes you, but if the materials are good and if you invest enough energy and interest in maintaining it, soon the logs catch, and your fire takes on new qualities.
Josephine Lowman, from the 'Register and Tribune Syndicate'

Henry Ward Beecher wrote:

Young love is a flame very pretty often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep burning, unquenchable.

I'm stoking the fire in the grate as I write this. I think I will enjoy a few hours in the warm glow of the fire I have been tending. And if you want to get lost in the images conjured up by the flames, leave the TV off and enjoy the magic of this page.

Don Jackson, December 2012

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