Seasons of the Hearth

The last time I posted a photo of the hearth I was learning how to build a fire that would last all day. It took a while, but I have finally mastered it using a variety of strategies that involved kindling, fat lighter, and fire starters. Of course, it involved great amounts of newspaper as well so I’m very glad I subscribe to two local papers and that occasionally I pick up a print version of the New York Times. But, it is unlikely that I will have any more fires this season so the hearth has been redone for spring and summer.

I took a large batch of newspapers to recycling at the dump and had a lot of help moving the wood holder and leftover wood downstairs when Michael and Allison visited this past weekend. I cleaned out the fireplace for the last time and we took the tools and rug to the shed, swept the hearth, the floor around the fireplace and the porch. The woodpile downstairs has shrunk considerably. Michael straightened it up and re-placed the tarp and we considered it done. Then I had to discuss how to handle the leftover wood with John, the bug guy. (Getting ready for spring is not as easy as you would think! It involves a lot of people!) John says that the further from the house the better and its current position is okay but I really should keep in mind that the ants are carpenter ants that like the wood and will use the woodpile to get into the house. Since the house is made of wood, I’m not sure how this works. Besides, John said, that’s what I pay him for — to treat outside the house for ants, termites, spiders, mice, and other things I don’t even want to think about. We discussed landscaping and the stairs and how he saw my car parked up top all winter so he knew I was here. We discussed the shed and how the new one is a huge improvement over the old one and then he told me what happens to sheds that cause mice to live in them. He confirmed that chipmunks were living in holes they made up against the house under the kitchen windows. All this because I asked him about the woodpile! Finally he treated around the outside of the house and promised to be back in August.

Even though it is still quite cool, I am encouraged by temperatures reaching the 60s this week and am enjoying the spring look of the hearth. The pussy willows will be added to or replaced by summer flowers. I am using the driveway again, Sydney is getting used to dirt instead of ice and snow, the UPS delivery person actually brought the box down the steps today instead of leaving it up top, and the bushes I planted last fall are blooming and have bees buzzing all around. The grill is on the deck and I am almost ready to spruce up the porch. My new yellow bird and its companion the not-very-well repaired bluebird are ready to take their places. These are all good signs. The hearth reflects the change of seasons as much as any of these other indicators, maybe even more.