Wood Smoke

wood

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The old man loaded the portions of the dead tree his son had reduced to firewood into a wheelbarrow and took it to the back of his house. From there, he carried it to the fireplace. His favorite chili was brewing on the stove. He’s spend a quiet evening after dinner reading and sipping a bourbon but he was really looking forward to the morning. He’d get up before dawn and start a warm fire. Then in the flicking light, he’d sit back with his coffee and feel peace and contentment rising like smoke.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 94.

The scene spoke to me of peace and contentment by the fireplace. I often wake up much earlier than my wife and spend the early morning hours drinking coffee and usually checking various sites online. She’s allergic to smoke, so we only have a gas fireplace and to conserve funds, we very rarely use it.

There are times when I enjoy the company of family and friends engaged in this activity or that, but I can also appreciate the peace of being alone with my own thoughts for a while.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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71 thoughts on “Wood Smoke

  1. Good call on the contentment; I get that feeling from it, too. In fact, I may have to join in the fun this week and see if I can twist it into something macabre. 😛 A meal is always enjoyed more (IMO) when you’ve cooked it yourself and spent time preparing it well, and I imagine it’s the same for the enjoyment of smoke from the wood-burner (I’ve never had to cut wood, myself. I think I’d be bad at it anyway).

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  2. A lovely, peaceful read.
    I really liked your interpretation of the picture and of course your notes containing a glimpse of your life. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. I suppose the contentment must remain the focus, if the enjoyment is not to be spoiled by mundane considerations of its cost. By that I mean its concomitant efforts before, during, and afterward — to fell a tree and chop or saw it into suitably-sized pieces, to carry these pieces to the fireplace and place them so they may burn well, to coax a flame onto them, to feed the fire one piece after another to maintain it at a desirable level, and to shovel-up and dispose of the ash after the flame has died and the embers cooled. Of course, much the same can be said of enjoying a meal that one has prepared; because however much one may enjoy the preparation, the presentation, and the partaking, one must ultimately clear the table, package and store any leftovers, clean the dishware and utensils, and dispose of the refuse. Nonetheless, that is the nature of life, and contentment is an art that must encompass all its elements. In the case of the tree, these may include some additional nontrivial efforts to uproot the stump of the tree and to process its wood, and perhaps that of at least some of its roots, as well. You may have recognized by my detailed description of these tasks that I have “been there and done that”, sufficiently to convince me that at least some of the tasks I wouldn’t wish to do very often or without a sufficient amount of friendly and technological help. [:)]

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  4. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting beside a wood-burning fire, feeling the warmth, inhaling the scent, listening to the crackling. I suddenly have an urge to light a fire in my fireplace!

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  5. A remember feeling the same as I sat hunched over a slow burning peat fire way out in the wilds of Ireland, thank for recalling those days. I however hope that humanity finds more ecological balanced ways of keeping warm whilst being still.

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    • We get inversions in the winter sometimes and when the air quality is bad, we’re prohibited from using wood fires. Still, every once in a while, the inner man just loves that smell.

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  6. We have a woodstove in the living room, but only use it when the weather is extremely cold or the power goes out. Wood makes a much warmer heat than gas and also warms you as you saw it, bust it, and handle it multiple times.
    I enjoyed your comment about solitude. That’s important to me as well.

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  7. There is nothing better than to curl up on the lounge with a good book, a cup of something, perhaps a chocolate or biscuit and the fire roaring in the hearth with the cat lying beside it and the dog by your side. I’m with your chap – I’d be looking forward to the next day too. Nice images you evoked.

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  8. I think the Dayquil has me zonked… wonderful scene, I think. Oh, H*… can’t put coherent thoughts together today. Maybe I need a nice warm fire, a hot totty, and someone to tuck a warm blankie around me.

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  9. Thanks for this, James. Such a different landscape and climate to my Summer beach culture here ust North of Sydney, Australia and I love being able to peek into other worlds, especially as I can’t afford to travel atm.
    I really loved the last line: “Then in the flicking light, he’d sit back with his coffee and feel peace and contentment rising like smoke”.
    Very atmospheric.
    Just thought I’d mention a problem with tense here: “He’s spend a quiet evening after dinner reading”. Should it read: “He’d spent”?
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

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