Thursday, August 16, 2012

#99: Tending to the Fire

Slight departure from normal this week. Instead of having veiled references to the staff’s Dads, this week I will begin the post with a true story of my Dad.

So last weekend my family was at our house in Wisconsin and for some reason it was actually somewhat cold on Friday night. Now I mean cold by early August standards, like mid 50s at night, so our thin summer blood saturated with booze was not used to it. The family decided to have a fire while we watched the Olympics and finished what was probably our fourth round of drinks. Over the next 90 minutes, my Dad religiously fed the fire by making a half dozen trips to the wood pile (So Dad: we made a weekend of splitting wood last fall) so we always had a roaring furnace of flame and constantly picked and placed wood for optimal combustion. It was like watching a sculptor work on marble, a surgeon perform open heart surgery, a line cook at Waffle House prepping your hash browns. In other words it was pure magic. Now onto the show…

When the first notes of a brisk fall descend upon us we think of many things: the morning smells of a football tailgate, the leaves rustling in the wind, hungover parents arguing with refs at AYSO soccer games. But one smell that reminds us of the changing of seasons is the brief musk of burning wood emanating from chimneys across suburbia. The family fire is always big in my family as we spend the weekend watching football games and reading the paper as a roaring flame keeps us toasty. Dad is the champion of fire, the lord of burning, the man who toils in silence because much like clean gutters and a green lawn Dad loves a perfect fire. He always wants to teach the kids how to build and start the fire using the right kindling, minor sticks, and fuel logs. How to crumble up the newspaper and light the corners just right so you minimize start up time. A true Dad can start a bonfire using half a match and one page from the Sunday Comics while wearing an Ugly Christmas Sweater and his old sweatpants from college.

So take notice in the upcoming cold, dark months at the forgotten toils of Dad. Although the lawn he preened over all summer is buried in snow, the fence he painted is covered in slush, and the cleared gutters are filled with leaves, Dad’s work shifts to the indoors (when the driveway is shoveled of course). People think Santa Claus works the hardest in the winter but Dad’s constant stacking of wood, bending over to blow on adolescent flames to urge growth, and feeding the appetite of a full raging fire is the true effort of the arctic months. Well done Dad!

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