Paper. Sticks. Logs.

The order is always the same.

Paper. Sticks. Logs.

I scrounge around for newspaper. I find the same box I’ve always found – one that we created when we first moved in, filled with newspapers dating back to June 2003. Each fire brings back the memories of that year, five years ago, when Kerrie and I anxiously awaited our wedding, just months after taking up residence again in our hometown of Sioux Falls.

The newspaper is twisted up like corn chips, creating a nest of instantly flammable organic matter.

The sticks come from everywhere. Sometimes we bring them back from camping trips. Sometimes they’re left in our yard after a prolonged wind storm. They’re made of lilac, birch, oak. They’re dried and thin enough to sustain a fire for several minutes – long enough for the heat to approach the best burning temperature.

The sticks are layered on top of the newspaper twists. They form a bed – a mattress for the logs to sleep upon.

The logs are mostly lilac, though many are left over from the assorted state parks we’ve visited over the years. We always buy our own wood at the park, knowing full well that what’s left over will help fuel a fire at home. It’s what we’d use if we had to create heat from scratch. It’s the earth providing warmth, secondhand, through ingenuity and modern materials.

The logs are set on top. The fire reaches them after a few seconds, licks at the bark and creates a hallow tube for which heat to burst forth.

We look around. We breathe in the smells. We wave at the people walking by. We sip a beer, sit back and enjoy the first fire of the newly warmed year.

Paper. Sticks. Logs.

Okay, summer. We’re ready for you.

This was lovingly handwritten on May 14th, 2008