January is, more often than not, our one month of winter in North Carolina’s Piedmont. The days can be wet and chilly, nights cold, and there is on occasion snow. This is when we keep the “Home fires burning”. The kitchen and greenhouse wood stoves often glow for days and nights, at a time, providing comfort and a resting place for hot meals. We also enjoy, this time of year, a winter respite for personal renewal. Often provided by spring seed catalogues and other books read and digested alongside the warmth of the fireplace.

You will occasionally hear an individual or two complain that the use of a fireplace, wood stove, or fire barrel for that matter is energy inefficient and contributes to global warming etc. etc.., but I disagree.The energy from wildfires out west, this past year alone, could provide warmth and comfort in the homes of tens of millions for a millennium. The fireplace and or kitchen wood stove is really not a valid priority when addressing our earth’s global warming. More importantly, the “fire pit” is very much part of the human condition, and very much a part of us, since we first discovered fire.

Being that as it may — I wonder if naysayers, of the fireplace have ever experience the sacred ritual of harvesting and putting to good use the wood from an old oak tree. The reward from this ritual is the gathering of family and friends, sharing of a drink and meal together, while warming bones by the fire, and perhaps even healing old unforgotten wounds.

And there are those that live alone. Who find solace in the company of glowing coals while reflecting in the memory of the one they loved and still love who is gone, but will never be gone. Some memories never fade. The fireplace is nature’s altar. It is where we take in spiritual meditation. The mental and physical therapy of a fireplace is invaluable.

The constants of nature run in full circle when a tree gives forth its soul. Natures felled tree’s laps, limbs and twigs provide humus on the forest floor. Fungi, earthworms and other invertebrates thrive. If we are lucky the logs are used for fire, and a better part of the human condition is satisfied.

There is nothing like an old oak tree put to good use.

Eat a Peach.