We’ll make fire our business.

This morning Liam and I squeezed in one game of Bananagrams, while his parents were making the rounds of all the rooms to find stray items not to leave behind. The grandchildren also stuffed their backpacks, and found space for last-minute offerings I made: their choice of a matchbox car and a book from my toy area/children’s library.

Liam chose one of the two remaining Sugar Creek Gang paperbacks, and Laddie combed through shelves and baskets looking for the hardcover Velveteen Rabbit, which he and I had enjoyed together last week; he finally did locate it. Brodie debated between The Little Fur Family and another book about a small animal, but after I encouraged him to take the classic, he happily went home with that superior and more traditional story. Clara finally settled on The Fox Jumped Up One Winter’s Night, after which you could hear young and old voices singing the story upstairs and down as she packed it into her bag.

Having watched Clara managing all the stuffies and several baby dolls over the last ten days, I was pretty sure she might like to take one home. I offered her the bear she had named Gingerbread. Their relationship hadn’t started well: she showed him to me twice early on and told me that he was “mean.” Laddie thought she might have had that response because of the placement of his eyes, closer together than other bears we compared him to. A few days ago he and I decided to put a blue ribbon around Gingerbread’s neck, and after that he became a favorite of Clara.

She was overjoyed when I told her she might take him home and keep him.

This afternoon my dear children departed for their home in Colorado, leaving the house strangely quiet and a little sad. I ate lunch and took a walk. The air was crisp and cold, and I began to cheer up right away. But maybe I was wearing the “wrong” shoes, because my feet began to hurt, and I returned home.

Soldier and Joy and the two older kids had been organizing, tidying and cleaning since yesterday, and before they left they got the dishwasher running — and the bathroom floors cleaned! There was nothing urgent for me to do, so I relaxed and caught up on blog-reading, as the furnace blew noisily trying to heat up this barn of a space. The idea of building a fire did cross my mind, and then it doubled back and crossed by again…

But I was beginning to feel the delayed fatigue of the last two weeks, and I didn’t want to pay attention to that thought. Until I read on an unfamiliar blog:

If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.
~Horace Traubel

Ha! Well, okay. I left this frigid computer corner to bring in a few logs, and as I spied the stack of kindling next to the stove, I recalled the time last week when I was surprised to find Liam all by himself in the garage, splitting sticks with the little hatchet, a big pile accumulating in front of him. I will be appreciating his efforts for a while to come.

Now it’s nearly my bedtime, and I have got the house cozied up. I’m thinking of lots of little ways that multitudes of people around me have been making it their business to “build fires.” It might just be sparks of kindness here and there, seemingly timid flames and ineffective; but so easily they can ignite a bonfire that will warm a whole village, and lessen the gloom of winter. Here’s to love!

12 thoughts on “We’ll make fire our business.

  1. This is so lovely, Gretchen. Wonderful words of gentle advice to us all, surrounded by images of love, giving, sharing and joy. What a lovely family you have — it sounds like Christmas was perfect, and now you are toasty warm with love — and a fire.


  2. Good Morning Gretchen,

    I finally remembered to put in my information first, I write you comments and then I have forgot my information and my comment is gone. What a lovely Christmas it looks like you have had. What sweet kids. I have enjoyed your posts.

    I think after they leave, its always so hard to make friends with the quiet again.

    Stay warm by your cozy fire. Blessings to you for the New Year.


  3. I love this post! Your grandchildren must just love coming to visit you! We used to have a wood stove and I miss it now in this -22C weather we’re experiencing— there’s nothing like wood heat!


    1. Actually, I gave each of those children two books as official Christmas gifts, and then each took another old book off the shelf. They love books!

      My paternal grandparents always gave us a book each Christmas when I was a child, and to me they were the most treasured and memorable gifts of all.


  4. What a lovely post! Yes, just a spark of kindness! That “delayed fatique” you mentioned I can relate to. I do find that the best thing to do when the last of the tail lights disappear around the bend, is to get out of the house and do something. A nice long walk is always a good thing. We do have our wood stove burning this rainy day. We are spoiled.


  5. Ah Gretchen, that is what I am doing this morning – catching up on reading blogs (simply can’t respond to them all) and getting used to the quiet of our house after our grandchildren left early yesterday morning. You have written such a lovely post that I simply had to respond to this one.


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