I stepped out the front door yesterday morning to the smell of wood smoke. The air was thick with it. It was hard to tell if the fog was truly weather induced or the result of every house on every block burning logs all night long.
I had to light a wood stove for the first time in my life last weekend. And the only reason I was able to do that is because my brother-in-law had set it all up for me before he left town. It was like fire-starting for dummies. Pick up lighter, lite stick, put stick to paper, wait for flames, add log, shut door, get warm. All that and it still took me three tries to get the fire going.
I’ve been told if you do it right, you only have to do it once. So much for that. By the time I woke up in the morning the fire was gone. I apparently don’t know how to do it right. And I wasn’t going to attempt starting from scratch on my own.
I get that building a fire is supposed to be some sort of human instinct. Cavemen did it. But I seem to lack that primal skill. Maybe all those genes went to my twin sister. She was the firefighter after all.
My twin sister. Fighting fires and saving lives.
I am pretty sure I never even got a fire started after a week at outdoor school back in 6th grade. All I remember is that I was told later that pocket lint is supposed to be good for that. That’s just one of the many useless to me facts I carry around in my brain on a daily basis. Kind of like what I wore on January 15, 2012: skinny jeans, green sweater, brown boots.
I’m not sure if my lack of fire smarts is related to the fact that I can’t light a candle without burning the tip of my thumb nail to a char. To solve the problem I simply swore of matches and switched to a long-handled lighter. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve had one too many sparkler sparks fly into my eyes on the 4th of July. I’ve also sworn off sparklers.
Eyeball protection comes first.
It’s not that I can’t start a fire. I’m actually pretty good at starting fires by accident. Just ask my wood handled teapot what happened when I left it on high for four hours while I went to class. Bye-bye wood handle; hello electric. (And yes, I realize how lucky I am not to have had further damage on that one. And have been properly scolded by my friend the Fire Investigator.)
It’s not even 10 degrees above freezing today. I keep getting messages from my East Coast friends about the cold, but I know for a fact it’s 15 degrees warmer there. I can only smile. Because part of me misses D.C. winters. Sixties in January and wearing shorts and a t-shirt on a run around the lake.
A client guessed that I’d be happy living in Florida. A native of Germany, she told me she doesn’t like the transition from warm to cold, but she’s happy once she gets used to it. She skis. When she lived in Florida, she used a snow machine to get her snow fix. I think she’s crazy. When it snows here, I imagine the white stuff is the sandy beaches of the Gulf coast. So maybe I'm the crazy one. It keeps me going, even if it doesn’t change my reality.
It already snowed one day last week, briefly. And it looks and feels like it won’t be long before we see some more. In the meantime, this gypsy has been busy trying to figure out what to do with herself for the winter.
As of this weekend, this gypsy life is on a temporary hiatus. Much like a bear, I’ve found a place to hole up for the winter. It’s only temporary. I’m only taking the necessities. I will still be a semi-gypsy with many of my belongings in storage. I won’t be getting too comfortable as another move will be in the future. But at least for the months of smoke-filled air and white and snow, I will have a temporary home and a place to call my own.
Don’t you worry. No matter where I end up, I will always have the heart of a gypsy.