Playing With Fire
By Thomas Morrone CFP®, CPA
I always seemed to be obsessed with fire. My dad used to burn trash in our back yard in a small cinder block incinerator that he built. No clue as to why I would like to watch things burn, but I did. My father had a poker that he would use to move things around so the items would burn more evenly. This poker was simply the broken handle of a shovel or rake and would burn down and become smaller and smaller and eventually end up in the fire. There was always a replacement that could be found somewhere in our garage. Not until I was much older could I burn things unsupervised. My parents had a fireplace in the house so burning was not limited to the outside incinerator. What was unique about their fireplace was it was open on two sides so there were different seating options for viewing and warmth. This made fire building a little more difficult, but I loved the challenge of having the perfect fire on both sides.
In my later teens I took a liking to camping. Any camping trip was not complete until there was a campfire. I always took great pride in creating the perfect fire starting with kindling and working up to small branches and eventually logs. We would then sit around the fire and tell stories for hours. It was good clean fun. We had many family camping trips with aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins. We would have numerous campsites in a row and at the end of each day we would gather around one large fire. It was more than a fire it was an event. Multiple family generations just hanging out around the fire. There were the s’mores, hot dogs on a stick and the ritual of throwing some obscure item into the fire to watch it burn. Nothing crazy, maybe a plastic cup or something.
When we built our first home, one of the items I was insistent on was a fireplace. It was fun to light the fire and sit around and gaze into the flames. When we moved, our next home had a fireplace as well. There was always a wood pile not too far away and it was a good workout to split logs and stack them in a nice neat row. Ironically, the pyromaniac in me got to be less and less the older I became. Everything seemed to be more work, splitting wood, hauling it into the house, stoking the fire and cleaning out the fireplace the next day. Then there was the vacuuming around the fireplace to clean up all the wood splinters and ashes. Eventually we put candles in the fireplace.
Every house I ever lived in had a fireplace. In our new home, I was insistent on having a fireplace once again. The big difference is now it is a gas fireplace, no wood is required. You just flick a switch and you are rewarded with an instantaneous perfect fire. I guess there still is a little pyromaniac left in me and I still enjoy sitting around the fire.
All the fun with none of the work. Life is good.
Until the Next Tom’s Take…