Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wood Smoke

My husband and I were married in his sister's living room on December 31st. Poinsettas were our bouquets, and Christmas Tree lights were our candelabras. We all went out to a Denny's kind of place for brunch afterward, and toasted over the pumpkin pie our Matron of Honour brought us, in place of a wedding cake. It was exceptionally kind of her to do that, given that she and our Best Man had to wake at a god-awful hour to make the ferry that brought them to the Mainland to attend our wedding. After brunch, we went to a bookstore and browsed, perhaps an hour or so, and then ... I can't remember.

The day after our marriage, I we drove up to see his parents, about an hour from his sister's place. We brought with a little cake, to celebrate with them. Their place is an acreage, a bubbly salmon creek runs below the wrap around porch. After cake and beer, we went out to the fire pit, no less than three feet in diameter, and my sweetie built me a fire any good pyro would be proud to call his own. A few squirts of jet fuel, some barely sawed tree stumps, and I could feel my skin tanning in just a few minutes. We stayed a couple of days, and the smell of woodsmoke was strong in his lumberjack style flannel shirts, his baseball caps, his quilted down vest. If the fire ever went out, I didn't notice. There was always one burning when I went out there to warm my toes with him.

Soon after the wedding (bad of me to not remember, I know) my new husband and I went camping. Winter camping. In British Columbia. His first words of wisdom to his new bride - don't get your ass wet. We spent a lot of time hiking around, sitting wrapped in sleeping bags by a (significantly smaller) campfire, snuggled in our little tent, and we kept each other's asses dry.

We've made many visits back to that amazing creek-fed property, and he and his sister co-own it, now that both his parents have passed on. We recently got a phone call from his sister, who related a story - between guffaws and bursts of uncontrollable giggles - how her extremely capable and normally compulsively safety-conscious husband (and my own husband's best friend) nearly burned down the entire compound, leaving the fire to have his supper. It would, in fact, be the way for that lovely place to go, extending the diameter of that fire pit to include the house, barn, garage, the river bank, the woodland to the North and the entire creek and mountain beyond to the West. But it didn't. Clever man figured out how to save us and it and laugh about the story in it's many retellings. The smell of wood smoke is strong there, decades of it. Half a century of woodsmoke curled around the pine branches above the pit, laying like dew between the daffodils in the Spring, and resting on the tidy buildings in all seasons.

Yesterday, after a lovely day off from wrangling and driving our beautiful children, I returned to a monstrous hug from our 4yo boy. I sank my head deep into his baggy hoody sweatshirt, between the soft fabric and his even softer skin, and he covered my face with his startling blond hair. I breathed in deeply, like a yoga exercise, taking in the woodsmoke that hung on him like a cape. I looked at my husband, hauling out the detritus of our back yard in a wheel barrow, and gave up a prayer of deepest thanks. It hasn't been perfect, but the smell of woodsmoke always brings me back to keeping my ass warm, and loving the man who makes my heart sing.

1 comment:

Jacque said...

Hi Andy,

What a beautiful story. I can just imagine the size of the fire as I have sat around it not to mention I know what kind of Pyro JAC is. The bigger the better.

Sending LOVE and HUGS from Vancouvr. We could us a really big fire to warm up the dreary wet air around here. Spring has been very slow in coming.

Jacque