I don’t know about you, but this past week was way too hot for me. It’s time to get to the cooler weather that comes with fall. I know, I know, we live in East Texas. I think I’ve spent as many Thanksgivings and Christmases in short sleeves than in sweaters. However, I’m a “glass half full” person and I believe the cooler weather is on the horizon which means fire!

I love fires. Not like “burning building” fires, but fires outside, in the fireplace, leaves burning, fire pits. To me, fires in that context are soothing and relaxing. Ask my family: the word I always use is “ambiance.” It sets a calming, homey feeling like nothing else can.

The love of fires runs in the family, I think. I remember (you knew that was coming, right?) when I was younger and I would spend the night with Mamaw (my grandmother who lived in Waskom). Her home had gas space heaters in her bedroom and the living room and a small one in the bathroom (I think). Anyway, when it was night time, in order to be safe and save money, we closed ALL the doors in the house and only had the heater going in her bedroom. If you’ve never experienced a cold night, under a warm blanket by a space heater, you’ve missed out. The soft blue flame from the glow of the heater and the warmth it gives......amazing. The only drawback to that was; if you had to get up in the night to go the bathroom. When you opened the door to walk down the hallway to the bathroom, the temperature dropped about 50 degrees instantly, I think. That’s a wake up call for sure!

Our daughter, Fancy, became a pyromaniac at a very young age. My mom and dad had a room we added on to our house, which consisted of a huge den and an office for my dad. Since it was an addition, we had a Ben Franklin stove in the den part and a space heater in dad’s office. Fancy and “Papa” (my dad) spent countless hours “burning matches”; you know, the long matches that you can light a space heater with. Papa would sit there with her and let her stick the long stick part in the fire and watch it burn. I know we would probably be turned in for child endangerment these days, but she was never unsupervised and it was cheap entertainment and a memory making time that the two of them, even to this day, talk about.....and smile! Fancy would come in to the kitchen where the rest of us would be and proclaim to the family: “Me and Papa were burning matches!” Good times!

When it gets below 45 degrees, I’m begging for a fire in the fireplace. We’ve already bought our ½ cord of wood for this year (by the way, this will be Round 1 of the firewood purchase, but it’s all our wood rack will hold). I will re-arrange the furniture soon so that the couch is beside the fireplace. The family gets a laugh out of my love for fires because they know that 15-20 minutes after that fire gets going at night and I get on that couch, I’m out like a light. They say “did you enjoy the ‘ambiance’, mom?” I did! I did indeed!

We have a fire pit out on the back patio that will, more than likely, get used first but, in the not too distant future, I hope our inside fireplace will make its grand re-opening in the Dillard home.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, I’m all about family and making memories. From me staying at Mamaw’s and sleeping by that gas space heater, to Fancy and Papa “burning matches” to now getting pictures from our Georgia kids sitting outside around their firepit, our Hallsville Dillard girls sitting around a fire at their house to our youngest enjoying his brand new fire pit ...

“We no longer build fires in the fireplaces for physical warmth. We build them for the warmth of the soul; we build them to dream by, to hope by, to home by.” Edna Ferber

I think I’m gonna go move my couch now and sit by the fireplace..... and smile!

— Dawn Dillard is a proud East Texas gal who loves all things southern especially cooking, music and family. She can be reached via email at DLDplays88@aol.com.