Late September is often when it is time to light the first fire of the season. A cold front swoops down from the North, temporally bringing an early-season chill that needs to be removed first thing in the morning. Letting the dog out, a cold air fills your lungs with little piercing needles telling you that the few leaves on the ground will soon be joined by many others. The lack of heat brings a different smell to the morning as the herbs seem much more willing to throw off their scents than they were only a few humid weeks ago.
At this time of year, there is plenty of starter wood left over from the natural pruning process. Many sticks and twigs lay on the remnants of last year’s leaves, most of which have disappeared. A few early arrivals from beech and birch have dropped making a few yellow marks on the grey and dusty soil, not enough to cover what needs to be harvested and stored for fires to come.
Last year’s wood has waited nearly half a year to be needed, sitting in the back as residences for chipmunks, snakes, and others looking for temporal dwellings. It’s too early to disturb the pile or them as for now only a few logs are needed this morn. A handful of kindling and a carrier of logs is all that is needed before breakfast. As I re-enter the house, titmice, warblers, woodpeckers, chickadees, sparrows and grosbeaks having theirs at the feeders around the house.
Spring ashes still cover the bottom of the grate waiting to be pushed aside. Balls of newspaper are readied to release their energy and form the bed for the kindling. Being old and dry, it snaps with a sharp sound, much like the popping of pine in an open fire. A quartered log is placed on top, ready to burn.
Lighting fire takes a few tries as a cold draft down the chimney blows out the match. A more sheltered attempt gets the paper to catch and then the kindling. In a few minutes the first fire has caught warming the room as I watch the birds outside swarm the feeder seemingly indifferent to the morning’s cold.