"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Weekend project

Growing up in western North Carolina, we had acreage and one of our favorite family traditions would have to be our outdoor hot dog roasts. Dad would spend a day working to clean out some underbrush, pile it in a big pile, and as dusk set in, he'd light that baby on fire and we kids would all stand around in wonderment seriously weighing whether or not the height of the licking flames would burn the blue ridge mountains to bits. Mom would whip up some homemade chili and slaw and I'd help her carry dawgs (that's said southern style), buns and side dishes out to the picnic table set near the fire. We'd usually have to put the curious cat into the car for the eve, but then we'd roast and listen to Dad play us a tune on his harmonica until the darkness set and the coals burned to ash.

Sometime last year, my dad came to visit for a rare extended length of time and because he doesn't sit still very well, my husband contrived to engage him in some woods clearing of our own. The two of them hauled brittle scrub oak into piles for the better part of the morning and I headed out with a lemonade in each hand to cool their mounting exhaustion. We sat briefly before my dad asked (and imagine the deeply southern drawl here), "Mar-lowe, whata ya reckon are yer fiiire lauws??"

Surrounded by nearly 200 bone-dry Ponderosa pines on our property alone, I could only think to say, "Um, Dad, don't burn anything okay?" before heading back to the house. But watching out that front window, I've never seen my southern California husband stick as close to my father as he did that day. I mean, for heaven sakes, he grew up with flames knocking on his back door so often that the paranoia of it all drove him to take a "fire science" class in college just in case he should ever need to quench a backdraft (I'm just kiddin'. I don't really know what a backdraft is). I'm just hoping the fireman helmet, coat and boots required for the class and stored in the basement will come in handy cuz you can bet if anything ever does happen, I'm gonna make him run down there, find that random box and suit up before taking care of biz.

Anyway, ... that all said, I'm excited about my completed weekend project. So excited, I've made the kids tell me how cool our new fire pit is about 100 times. Even cooler when we fired it up this weekend with some really great friends. Nothing like the smell of smoke and dawgs as kids run around awash in spring's fading sunlight.

Time for our own memory making. Let's hope we don't scar the planet by burning down Franktown -- and if so, at least we've got the proper grear to wear. And, thanks Christian, for pushing the wagon while I hauled the bricks! Now, let's go make sure we obey the "fiiire lauws".


  1. It looks SO great! We were planning on building one of these for Jason for fathers day. I'm sure ours won't turn out as nice as yours! Ours will just end up out in the grass somewhere. But as long as we can roast a dog and go to bed smelling like a camp fire it will be worth it!

  2. This was so easy Mellyn! Just backbreaking. These bricks and fire pan are at any home store and Christian and I just built the circle and recessed the cheapy pan into it. Now the kids are longing for the warmer days when we will let them set the tent up too.

  3. I'm so sad you live in a dry place and can't have that great bonfire...Last year I took 4 of my kids and we went down to help with the pecan harvest on the farm. Jason (17) raked and raked and raked the whole time, and by the end they had a huge pile of tree branches. We danced around the fire and roasted marshmallows on the rake tines...because we'd burned all of the sticks! What a good memory...

  4. I do so miss the greenery! And, I think the farm is where we all learned to respect a good blaze -- especially when it was engulfing a barn.