Sunday, January 6, 2013

Playing with fire

I have always loved a fire...bonfire or fireplace, it doesn't matter to me.  There is something about staring into the flames that is very relaxing.  I guess it stems from my childhood at the cabin.  We had no television to entertain us in the evenings, so Dad would build a big fire to take the chill off the evening and we would gather around it.  Aunts, uncles, and cousins would usually come to call.  Uncle Ed would sometimes bring a No. 2 washtub filled with Lima beans or green beans along with a juicy watermelon.  The melon would be placed in the creek that ran through the front yard so it would cool quickly and provide a sweet reward when the work was finished.  The washtub of beans would be placed in the center of the living room floor.  Everyone would grab a section of newspaper to place in their lap to catch the strings or hulls.  As we strung or shelled the beans, the "old folks" would tell stories about growing up in the mountains and their ancestors.  Not only did I gain a love of a fire, I also gained an interest in history and genealogy.  My ancestors had such unusual names; Granny Fanny, Grandaddy Seph, Pink Bishop, Lala Jerry...what child wouldn't be fascinated by such names.  And the stories were just as exciting; my uncles climbing around to the Sheep's Mouth at Caesar's Head to rescue a straying lamb, square dances on the top of the 100 foot water tower that had no guardrail, Aunt Dixie stopping a team of runaway horses by waving her straw hat as she stood in their path, Pap-Paw Jones sewing up his own wound with black thread after being cut by a boar's tusk, Uncle Lewis being prayed over by Miss Janie when he came home drunk.  Every evening, I was transported into a magical world that sounded like a fantastic story in a book, but was really the story of my mother & her siblings growing up in rural Appalachia.  The fireplace was always the focal point.  As the evening wore on and the beans were all strung, the warmth of the fire would bring on drowsiness.  Curling up on the couch, I would fall asleep to the hypnotic hum of voices.  It was so comforting and safe.  This feeling became such a part of my being that when Steve & I began to plan the building of our new house in 1984, a fireplace was at the top of my "must-have" list.  We finished the house on May 31st and moved in on June 1st.  I was so excited that on that very night, even though it was 80 degrees outside, I turned the thermostat down to 68 degrees and made Steve build a fire for me.  I know the neighbors must have thought we were lunatics, but I didn't care.  To take the chill off of today's gray South Georgia afternoon, I built a fire.  As I snuggled in my easy chair with a lap full of Puddin' and Sweetie Pie instead of Lima beans, I was transported back in time to the Three Bears' House on a cool summer evening.  I could almost hear the sweet voices of relatives as they related stories of their childhood.  Who needs the television with a heritage such as that!

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