Firesides on winter evenings

Mom and Dad's favorite room on a typical winter's night in 2006

Mom and Dad’s favorite room on a typical winter’s night in 2006

“The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cozy parlor firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”Kenneth Grahame in The Wind in the Willows

Each year the seasons seem to pass more quickly, so I’m amazed that winter is already drawing to a close.  As eager as I always am for spring, I can’t let the season pass without at least one tribute to the cozy, dreamy appeal of a big, crackling fire.  Perhaps my warmest childhood memories are similar to the comforting thoughts evoked by Toad’s buttered toast; my parents, brothers, sister and I spent many happy evenings together by the fireplace, sometimes accompanied by friends, enjoying laughter and lively conversation.

This winter was not typical for us, with the crisis of Jeff’s diagnosis and treatment.  Among other festivities that fell by the wayside, I cancelled two trips I had planned to see my parents during the holiday season.  I missed the chance to sit by the roaring fires that Mama and Daddy still enjoy.  For many years Jeff and I have lived mostly in homes that are newer and supposedly more energy-efficient, with gas fireplaces that are pleasant, but nothing like a real wood fire in an open hearth.  I fondly hope that next winter will bring us the opportunity to be together at my parents’ hearth, but until then, I am happy for the memories that warm my thoughts on cold evenings.

If you are lucky enough to have a wood-burning fireplace, or a gas or electric one,  make time to enjoy at least a few more fireside evenings before spring arrives.  Curl up with a good book or new magazine, and a cup of hot cocoa, tea or coffee, and bask in the glow.

Read about another blogger’s family memories here!


  1. Couldn’t agree more!! Love the pic (as usual)

    • Thanks Carla, I thought it might bring back some memories for you!

  2. Sheila

    Julia,although you and Jeff are dealing with a health crisis, I detect a love that warms you from the inside out. Bill and I are spending the weekend in our motor home outside the beach at a campground where other friends meet here often. We enjoyed a campfire last night with these friends for much good food and much laughter. A campfire does warm our soul! A prayer this morning for you, Sheila

    • Sheila, that sounds so appealing! A beach, campfire, friends…it doesn’t get much better than that. Reminds me of our years in Hawaii, when our church would sometimes meet at the beach for worship instead of in the church building. Thanks for starting my day with a wonderful mental image to feed my brain with pleasant thoughts! Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  3. Ryan

    Twice lately I’ve had the pleasure of going to my parents house and Dad has had a roaring fire waiting for me. Our house has no fireplace, so I appreciate it all the more. Four year old Kate already feels the magic of a fire and looks forward to Grandaddy facilitating her fascination when we get together.

    • Ryan, the location of your parents’ home in the beautiful mountains of north Georgia (complete with deer, bears and other critters) makes it even more magical. Your kids will have special memories of those fires, just as my boys (who at that time could only remember living in California) have such memories of visiting my parents when they were very young.

  4. Along the coast we have little need for a fireplace, though many places have them in the Andes. How lovely it is to return to my room after dinner and find that the hotel/hacienda’s staff had lovingly turned back the bed and started a fire in the fireplace!

    Last night I returned home from dinner with friends. Although there was no fire waiting, I loitered outside beneath a Carl-Sagan sky and marveled at the beauty of the waxing moon, the twinkling stars, and the wildlife that surrounded me. I could not see the many species of birds, but I was aware that they were there – and very aware of my presence!

    Spring flowers and warmer weather will soon bring you comfort from winter!

    • Thank you, Lisa, for another wonderful image to visit in my imagination! I hope someday to visit the Andes and also the beautiful area where you live. I’ve never had a hotel room with a real fireplace, much less one where the staff would prepare a fire for me; what a lovely experience to remember. Thanks also for painting us a word picture of your country. Indeed, “An artist’s eyes never rest!” 🙂

      • i will always treasure my first trip to ecuador, where even for 10 to 15 dollars a night, i would return to my room after dinner and find the fire warming the room, more with atmosphere than actual warmth! brrrr, the climate in the andes is cold at night!

        those memories most likely played a large role in my decision to move here, even though i live on the pacific coast. i still love visiting the sierrra (andes) and getting those doses of coddling!

        scroll almost to the end to see an example of those fireplaces:

        • Lisa, this photographic tour was fabulous! I can’t decide which part I liked best – although the cafe con leche, kitty cat, and other animals were high on my list. Your photographs are beautiful and took me as close to Ecuador as I’m likely to get anytime soon, although it’s now risen nearer to the top of my list of places I’d like to go! Our daughter-in-law has been there a couple of times at least, and I think she really enjoys it too. We have a lovely dimensional plate from there that she gave us, hanging on our kitchen wall. I’m so glad you provided this link, which I hope many others will follow.

          • thanks, amiga. i’m glad you’re familiar with the country through our daughter-in-law. it truly is a diverse country. z

  5. I’m actually doing that today…I’ll think of you. xo

    • How wonderful! Thank you. 🙂

  6. I loved your story and thank you so much for linking back to my post Julia! We had a wood burning fireplace at the lake for years and then changed to to gas. Two reasons really. Our A-framed home had a very tall chimney that was hard to get to draw out smoke on really cold days. We also never liked it burning and going to bed. I do love the crackle of an open fire and enjoyed many neighbourly late-night fire pit shenanigans out on our patio.

    • Yes, gas is definitely easier and more practical, just not as magical. An outdoor fire pit sounds wonderful, especially with neighbors joining you to enjoy it! Hope you have a beautiful day. Thanks for visiting.

  7. Megan

    Unbeknownst to us at the time, Drew and I took your advice Saturday night and had a fire in our fireplace. It was one of our coldest days yet (very windy), but the fire turned it into a lovely evening. I’m thankful we have the option when the weather is cold!

    • Megan, I’m so happy you were able to enjoy the fireplace! You must have picked up my blogging vibes via Wi-Fi :-).


  1. Some kind of recreational activity | Defeat Despair
  2. Firesides on winter evenings | Defeat Despair

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