Evidence that one time I did build a fire...
The temperature was pretty chilly for us wimpy Californians, so one of the first things we aimed to do was start a fire. When Mr. W and I were up at the house a few weeks ago, he had a local guy deliver a giant load of firewood, so as far as I knew, we had everything we needed to stay warm.
For the record, I DID start a fire on my own when I was at the house in December, so I know it is possible. But as I piled my logs on the iron grate and crumpled my newspaper and watched the flames travel upward from my ignition spots, the end result—again and again—was a pile of ash.
A former girl scout, I suddenly remembered that I needed to build a little tee-pee with kindling under the bigger logs to really get things going. So I retrieved the axe from the closet and set out to split some smaller pieces of wood off the big chunks.
Have you guys ever used an axe before? It seems like it would be really simple, right? Totally not. I could barely get the damn thing to stick in the wood, let alone split it into halves or quarters. Mega fail.
My next best option was to use cardboard from some of the moving boxes. So I started again—sister and nieces gathered around, also trying to help—and this time, I caught one of the bigger logs on fire. As it burned, I noticed it was resting on the floor of the fireplace, so I grabbed the poker and tried to prod it back up onto the grate. As I did so, it split in half. And then the fire went out again...
It was around this time that Mr. W texted, so I had my younger niece pull him up on Skype to counsel us. He quickly became irritated with our ineptitude and told me to, "Go get some fricking pine cones and light those under the wood."
My sister headed out into the night (I'm not sure where exactly) and when she returned, she said, "I couldn't find pine cones, but I found this!" and held up what looked like a single piece of straw. One stick. After being outside for several minutes. Good work.
After we berated her heavily, she went back outside armed with the flashlight. This time, when she returned, she had an armful of pine cones and needley branches. But according to her, something—perhaps a bird of prey or a wee mountain lion—growled at her from up in the tree while she was combing the ground. So she had to scream and run back to the house before she could collect more kindling.
We tried to light the pine cones and they just fizzled.
Starving and frustrated, we gave up and ate dinner. But I couldn't stand the fact that we hadn't been able to make it work, so fueled by another glass of wine, I began trying again. I built another cardboard tee-pee and kept feeding it until the big logs caught fire. Mission blondely accomplished.
We made s'mores and all was right in the world.
Having lived through this treacherous saga, I know now that four blondes does not equal fire-building abilities. And that kindling should be gathered during daylight hours when the racoons and turkey vultures are less likely to bite you in the jugular and carry you back to their nests.
Good lessons for country living, I think.