First Fire

It’s the day before my birthday in early September. The first heavy rain in weeks falls. It’s damp out and the sun set at 7:09 pm. I felt my feet cold as ice today and decided it was time to start the fire.

Wood has been drying in the shed all summer. I picked a few pieces of dry pine and hemlock from the pile. I went over to the stack of circulars I’ve been saving all summer in the old yellow Hood milk crate. We can’t afford the newspaper, and there isn’t much in it worth reading these days, but every week we get a free circular for grocery shopping and the drugstore that I set aside. Dry wood, newspaper, and quality matches are essential when you’re cold and need a fire.

I tear the paper into 2 inch long strips. Then I fold it in half and twist it together to make a twisted paper stick. I lay a few down and put the wood on top. It lights quickly and the barn cats come into the shed eager for a peak.

I watch the paper burn away and light the wood. A translucent spider scurries out from a crack in the wood. Feeling the heat he tries to find a way out. It’s too late for him and me both. Winter is coming and there’s many more nights of this ahead.