Place Where You Live:

Penobscot Bay, Ohio

The warmth from the fire in the cookstove is conspicuous, tangible – chunks of beech and ash, kindled to flame from match and dry cedar, morph to red coals that throb with intensity. Heat you enter in a field near the stove, its ardor on your fingertips as you slowly move your hand just inches over the cast iron top.

But there is warmth in this house that’s greater than the Glenwood’s radiance. The honeyed sunlight of this cinnamon toast December morning sweetens the air, too, the full depth of the house, front to back. Can wood – pine and spruce boards and timbers, their natural colors benevolent in this buttered gloss – can wood heighten the warmth I feel? Is this contribution real or imagined? Can the house warm itself?

Then Pippen, asleep on the back of grandfather chair, stretches, yawns, and curls his paws under his dandelion down and striped fur, simultaneously adding to and drawing from the comfortable house.

Stepping out into the cold that makes rocks of mud and dirt, then back inside to the occasional pop and swish coming out of the stove, the sweep of warmth against cheeried cheeks, the fragrance of fresh black coffee dark as fir trees on moonless nights, a childhood rush of joy and inspiration arises – from where? These perceptions of now – so mingled with yesterday and tomorrow – perhaps seed flame? I think this house has itself become a generator of heat, a source of belonging and love, a living, breathing Being ready to welcome kindred souls.

Or maybe the warmth is all inside, blush of blood and flash of desire, a heart, this moment like a brilliant crystal, radiating warmth to air and surface, timber and plank, kiln and little mammal. I don’t know. I may never know. And today, in the golden glow, it does not matter at all.