For want of a little autumn cheer

Tonight is the first night of this year’s autumn season when the weather has actually felt autumn-y — dark, a little damp and chilly, and somewhat cheerless.  It’s the kind of night that makes you want to curl up in front of a fire and read a book or laugh with your friends.

Sadly, my apartment doesn’t have a fireplace.  When I moved here that didn’t seem like a particular concern, but right now it strikes me as a rather glaring flaw in the building’s design.  I could, of course, get myself a genuine Amish fireplace, but that won’t help me tonight, and seems like a somewhat desperate measure regardless.  But, there’s no denying that a fireplace would kick ass right about now.

I was a little spoiled the last place I lived, which had a giant fireplace.  Now, with no casual fireplace access, I’m left wondering where I could go to get my fix of crackling warmth and cheer.  If I were still living in London this would be an easy task, as any number of pubs within casual walking distance (my old city block had seven pubs I could reach without crossing a street) would be filled with woodsy goodness, tipsy cheer, and a roaring fire.  London is a city that knows its warmth and cheer, what with the outside being so sodden miserable half the year.  Around here, my options are decidedly more limited.  There is, actually, and Irish pub not too far from here that has a lovely fire  (in a room where I had quite a big birthday party a few years ago, so it also comes with warm memories); however, that establishment isn’t really suitable for simply sitting and enjoying the fire.  You can put an authentic Irish pub near a major American university, but it’s still going to fill up with drunken American university students.  A decent Indian restaurant near me has a fireplace, but I’d have to eat a second dinner (which, honestly, I’m perfectly capable of) to buy entrance, and they probably wouldn’t appreciate me lingering afterward with a book.  After that, my options get thin awfully quickly — a garbage-can fire in the local homeless park is next on the list, I think.

So, why is it so easy to find a warm, crackling hearth in certain places of the world, and not others?  Obviously, the warmer it is the less likely one is to crave the comfort of a fire.  But, even Hawai’i has firepits and bonfires.  And, if the fireplace where I used to live was any indication, people really liked that fire, even when it wasn’t cold enough outside to justify it.  A fireplace brings more than warmth; it brings cheer and security — warm cheer and security, true, but not simply warmth.  It seems to me that the United States, colonized mostly after the invention of electricity, seems less appreciative of good old burning wood.  Well, and also California in particular keeps having enormous wildfires that destroy the opulent homes of celebrities, which maybe sours some people on fires in general.  Also, metropolitan areas in California keep having “spare the air” days when it’s illegal to burn anything, celebrity mansions notwithstanding.

So, yeah, perhaps there are reasons why fireplaces aren’t as popular around here as they could be.  But, it doesn’t change the fact that right now it would be nice to be beside a roaring fire.  I’m actually tempted to swing by my old place and plunk down in front of a fire there, but that would be weird since I don’t live there any more.  So, I’m left with ignoring rowdy drunken university students, eating a second dinner of Indian food, or hanging out in a homeless park, if I want my fireside fix.  I’m actually leaning towards burning some newspapers and an old chair in my bathtub.

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