The last couple of mornings it’s been cold here. There’s no snow on the ground, but it is that “make the skin on your face hurt," type of cold. I wake up, grit my teeth as I slither out of the covers and rush for the fireplace. Our house has a heater, but the system is so ancient that it costs $900 a month to just warm the house up. Needless to say, we don’t turn it on.
The little ritual of rushing to the fireplace has made me think of other fireplaces I’ve known…each has been different and each has special memories...and each makes me shiver just thinking about them!
There was the little wood stove in our trailer in Oasis, NV, when dad was working at the Big Springs Ranch. There was a HUGE metal sign behind it to help reflect the heat a bit. It was bright yellow and said “Merge Left”. When the boss’s son shot out our pickup window on accident, dad promised not to tell if he painted over our ugly sign.
John did, and dad didn’t tell. The sign has a picture of my dad roping a horse in the desert painted with BBQ paint so it wouldn’t melt behind the stove….it now hangs in the place of honor over our piano!
There was the little coal fireplace in St. Andrews, Scotland. The cottage we lived in in Scotland did NOT have central heating. The fireplaces there were about 16” high x 20” wide at the most and only the living room had heat. It was so cold that one year our toothpaste froze! I can remember our mums and dad coming to tuck us in one night and having them bust up laughing because Adrian and I were in bed with wool sweaters, sweat pants, hats and gloves on!! Hey….we were cold! Rushing to the fireplace in the morning was a little different there than it is here….coal doesn’t catch fire very quickly, and it takes a couple hours for it to put out much heat. I mean come on, it doesn’t make sense to try and light a bunch of rocks on fire anyway!!!
Then there was the campfire we had for 3 days at winter camp in Missouri when Adrian and dad decided to go beaver trapping. THAT was probably the most miserable I’ve ever been in my entire life. Adrian really likes to trap, I don’t, but I do like to be with my family so I decided to tag along. We packed into where we were going to be staying and on the way into camp, I was leading my horse down a slippery, snow covered hill and fell in a creek up to my shins. I started off cold and wet and never really warmed up. Adrian and I had decided prior to this trip that it would be really cool to have a portable tipi that you could set up without poles. With the help of our dad, who is literally good at anything he sets his hand to, we made a small 10 ft tipi pattern that could be set up with poles, OR tied around a tree so you wouldn’t have to pack poles with you. I hand sewed our tipi and we were the most cozy people on that trip! Adrian says that I should stop whining because she gave me the buffalo robe to sleep in so I should have been the warmest! Adrian immediately fell asleep and snored loudly throughout the entire night…I had just broken my collar bone, my feet were still damp and I was COLD…I think I even cried I was so miserable! I was so glad to get to our campfire the next morning! We were burning Osage Orange wood and that stuff burns HOT!
There was the Coleman lamp I had out in camp in Nevada. Yes, I agree with you, a lamp does not count as a fireplace. But it was acting as heat that day…so there you go. The first night I spent in camp in Charleston was before I was moved out there full time. I just went out for a few days to help receive a couple loads of cows from CA, and the first night was butt-chillin cold! The generator wasn’t there yet for my trailer but I did have a Coleman lamp, a big one! I remember holding my hands out to it for warmth…which looking back on it now, was probably a horrible fire hazard in that flammable old camp trailer! I had my bedroll…with a thick foam pad on the bottom and wool blankets galore, but I think I still jumped in my pickup in the early morning to turn on my heater and try and thaw out!
|This was my first campsite...obviously this was in the summer, |
but I don't have a picture of it in the cold!
There was the hip-high heater that was in my cinderblock house in Tuscarora, NV. I have no idea WHAT that heater was…but I do remember turning it up as high as it would go and sitting on top of it until my jeans would start to smoke. The Roseberry was a funny house, it had been an old cookhouse for the Rhoades Ranch and someone must have gotten the paint on sale because the entire cinderblock house, inside and out, was painted the most delicate of pale pinks. The doors didn’t fit quite right and the windows whistled and since the house was built in the meadows, it could get a little chilly. The coldest I know of was -22 F, which for some is no big deal but for this California girl working for hours on end in those temperatures was life changing! One particularly blizzard-y night, I got a call from my boss. He and his 8-month pregnant wife and their little girl had tried to get home from town and couldn’t make it up the road to their house. Even with him plowing the way with the tractor first left them getting stuck. They made it to my house and spent the night. I put Ty and Ronda in my room and drug my bedroll in front of the heater and went to sleep. The next day Ronda brought me two space heaters to warm my bedroom up with! Apparently the wind whistling through the window had made the bedroom too cold for comfort the night before!
|View out my kitchen window at the Roseberry...brrr!|
As I type this, I’m sitting on the couch in front of my parent's fireplace. I am thankful for its heat and the comfort it brings my family. The memories of fireplaces I’ve known are actually heart-warming now, because they’re experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world. I know some people who will read this didn’t grow up with electricity and some of you may even be operating off a generator now! I’d love to hear about your cold weather and fireplace stories, so please share them!
xo xo Liz