Dear Old Beach Cottage - The Fire Still Burns,
I don't know what it is about an early morning fire in the fireplace. The fire as the only glow in the room. The quiet. My coffee warm in my hands. It feels like my most favorite luxury when I get this space and time. Fire adds a singular coziness to a room that can be added in no other way.
We didn't have a fireplace in our home growing up but, my mind goes all the way back to the wonderful old house of my great grandmother, Clara Belle Floyd. I remember the fireplace in her living room. It seemed huge to me at the time; looking back it may just be that I was very little. But I remember the darkness of that room and the only light coming from a great fire in the fireplace. It is perhaps the first time that I learned about standing for a long time in front of it and how your pants would get hot, and you wouldn't know how hot until you sat down! Ouch! I remember the cuckoo clock and how she would wind it up for us to watch it pop out on the hour.
It is one of the things I fell in love with at an old beach cottage that I rented several years ago. Spring, Summer, Fall or winter - I always loved to have a fire in the fireplace. It was the most magical place I have ever been. Truly a gift for the time that I had access to it. It was a tiny shake-shingle cottage set right on the edge of the sand dunes of St. Augustine Beach, FL. It was perfect in every way specifically because it was imperfect in so many ways. There was no heat or air conditioning - which can be brutal at the height of extreme seasons. The shower was like a tiny cave, complete with whatever living creature may have wandered in on any given day. There was no stove, which may actually have been a blessing depending on your penchant for cooking. And not a single bed was actually very comfortable. But I loved that space.
Sitting before a fire in that tiny cottage reading my Bible, or journaling, or painting on it's front porch was beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. Although I didn't own it, the owner had graciously allowed to me to "make it mine," through a little bit of decorating and rearranging. It felt like it was mine and I had dressed it in white and had added art, and candles, and linens and shells. I gave that little place my heart and soul and she returned the favor. I built a fire in a cottage, and then that cottage built a fire in my heart and I was transformed.
I suppose that is why I keep building fires in my fireplace at home. I am looking to create a space that in turn transforms hearts. It is what we do in a home. It is more than a place to rest your head and eat a meal - it is a place of transformation. What happens when I build a fire? My children come in and relax in front of it. They choose to do their school work in front of it. They choose to read in front of it. We relax, and the business of life recedes into the darkness behind us.
I know it wasn't just the fire; it was the combination of the whole of that little place, but there was definitely something about it that was wondrous, and magical and defies my words at this moment. When Aristotle proclaimed "The Whole was greater than the sum of it's parts," this is what he was describing. And it is impossible for me to describe. As cliché as it sounds - You had to be there. And I got to be there - and I will forever be grateful.
P.S. Maybe one day...