Things are never normal in the Barry household, but yesterday was one of those days were regular “abnormal” looked downright boring. If you live anywhere in the Southeast, then you’re aware that the temperatures were nearing eighty degrees. Yet, somehow, we ended up with a roaring fire in the fireplace. To get to that point, we should start at the beginning.
Over the course of two weeks, Nashville has seen three wicked storm systems pass through. During the first, six large trees in the neighborhood were entirely uprooted. Now, because we rent, absolutely nothing happened to our own trees. There is no doubt that our house would have burned down the day after we signed the papers if we bought it. That’s just how my luck goes. Instead of our house blowing down along with the trees, we just lost a pretty large branch. It lay in the ditch through the next two storms, during which three more trees fell.
That still doesn’t explain the fire on a gorgeous, warm spring day, though you might see where this story is going. You just can’t yet see where it’s coming from. For everything to make sense, you’d need to know that we noticed a bit of water damage above our fireplace about six months ago. The landlord sent in workmen to fix it, and after three days of tearing out the drywall down to the studs, replacing it with new, sanding, and painting, everything seemed peachy. Until the first rain. That was when we noticed that whatever we thought was wrong with the chimney wasn’t fixed.
More workmen. More drywall removal. More drywall replacement. More water damage. Finally, the vicious cycle seemed to be over. There was still a lot of moisture in the bricks, and only a super-hot fire could fix that. We hoped.
So, to really appreciate the whole scene, you must picture my city-boy husband wielding a tiny, electric chainsaw (which made a very unsatisfying “brrrrr-brrrrr-brr-brrrrr noise) as though he were a logger from the Great Northwest. In the time it would have taken another man to cut up six branches, my handy husband showed that branch who was boss. It was then city-girl’s turn to get a fire going in the fireplace without the help of newspaper or lighter fluid (I did really, REALLY want the lighter fluid.) After a good hour of struggling, we had a wimpy little fire going.
I’m not really sure how it happened. I guess I can understand now how a cigarette can cause a forest fire, because that tiny flame that I got started eventually burned white hot, and we had to open all the windows in the house to keep from fainting from the heat. When that didn’t work, we pumped up the air conditioner. I wish we’d thought to cut up that branch on Saturday, when a fire might have been a bit more welcome.
Suffice it to say, if there’s moisture left in the bricks, it wasn’t for our lack of trying. Hard. Really, really hard.
Edit: My husband likes visual aids. He humbly submits to you a photo of the fruits of our labor.