Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stars and Fire

By Claudia Ricci
It was just about a year ago when you vacated your old farmhouse, to live temporarily in DC. And now it’s time to move home, and it’s a little scary because that old farmhouse you left behind is in the middle of nowhere and it is so cold and so old and drafty and so empty of your children, who are grown up, and your husband, who will not be able to move back from DC until health care reform ACTUALLY PASSES, (please God, soon!)

Anyway, you drive up from JFK on a night that is so cold and clear that the stars seem to shine brighter. It’s after ten o’clock when you pull into the driveway and get out of the car and stare up at the splatter of stars overhead and think “ah, yes, this is why I live here.” Then you make your way in the dark around to the back door with three heavy bags and you fumble around until the key fits. When you’re inside you can still practically see your breath it’s so cold.

Suddenly, though, you remember what your friend Liza said in an email a few weeks back, after you wrote to say you were nervous about returning home. “You’ll get back there and light a fire in the wood stove and immediately you’ll feel at home.”

So before you take your coat or boots or gloves off, you hurry out the back door to the wood shed and under a crisp crescent moon in the western sky, you collect some twigs and small sticks and a couple of logs. Back indoors you’ve got a fire going in the stove more quickly than you have ever started one before.

You pull the rocking chair right up there to the arched window of the stove and you sit and stare inside the window of the stove. Your knees are inches from the fire. The wood crackles and sparks. The log sitting in the stove suddenly has a snout, like a dog. Your mind jumps back in time. There beside you is Bearsie, the big black Chow/Lab (Chowbrador) you had for more than ten years.

The rest of the house is dark. But no longer is it so scary. There are flames roaring inside, and outside the back window there are all those pinpoints of fire blinking in the black sky.

Such an old thing. Making a fire. Cozying up beside roaring flames.

Such an old thing. Sitting under stars.

After a while you unpack your digital camera and play with the shutter so that that flash doesn’t go on. You take some wild photos of the flames roaring up in the woodstove and you smile because one of the photos could be a close-up of one of those stars.

You smile.

Because you are home, and warm, because you feel just fine.


Anonymous said...

So, you are back home. I know the feeling of missing home and simultaneously being afraid to return. You get used to the chaos of these urban areas. You get used to the noise, and the people. But, there's nothing like going back home. We'll miss you out here in DC.

david seth michaels said...

Hey, welcome home! I guess your arrival increased the local population by about 5%

Anonymous said...

Welcome home! I am glad to know you are now closer to UA. I worried that you would like DC so much you wouldn't come back. If you are teaching there again, I'd love to take another class:-) I miss being pushed to higher levels of thinking and creativity.