Sonnet in Iambic Pentameter: Solstice Evening Fire

Solstice Evening Fire

Rick's split and seasoned fir and birch is stacked
Beneath the stairs. From upper picture windows
We see silver snow-clouds slowly sweep a storm
Along the Thompson Valley south to high
Sahali, til moonrise buffs the skies. The moon
Is full tonight. Behind Apostles' Mountains
Light pours every luminous valley bright
With snow. At end of day our sated dogs,
Who ran the sandy flats at river's shore
In early dusk, surrender now to sleep
On dark wood floor. They warm their flanks by fire,
Dreaming of the chase. Nearby, in flickering russet
Light, marshmallows toast on short-tined
Forks. We bask in every hue of gratitude.

A Cord of Firewood

A cord of firewood is a measure of volume: four feet by four feet by eight feet. We burn fires for comfort and atmosphere in the evenings in the living room, not as a main source of heat.  A cord lasts us two winters.
A cord of firewood is a measure of volume: four feet by four feet by eight feet. We burn fires for comfort and atmosphere in the evenings in the living room, not as a main source of heat. A cord lasts us two winters. | Source

Seasoned Firewood: Backstory to the Sonnet

We left the temperate rainforest of the coast for the dry, cold winters of the Interior of British Columbia when we moved from Vancouver to Kamloops. By December, the cold winds blew down the Thompson River Valley, freezing the river, and for the first time I was living in a home with a fireplace. I had never bought firewood before, but I wanted some now.

In the local community paper I saw a classified ad: Firewood for sale, seasoned and delivered. Birch, fir and pine.
I called the number. Rick lives near Napier Lake on a woodlot out of town, and cuts firewood in the summers, piles it covered so it can dry, and delivers it by the cord the following year.


Best Wood for Firewood

"How much is your firewood?" I asked.
"$175 a cord for pine, 200 for birch and fir mixed, 225 for birch. It’s all seasoned, burns easily, and I can deliver it tomorrow morning."
"What’s the best wood?" I asked him.
"Most people like birch, because the bark catches easily, it burns without sparks, and doesn’t leave as much ash. Fir is also good--it catches fire easily, but leaves more ash than birch. Lots of people don’t like pine too much since it has a lot of creosote, can smoke, and leaves smudge in your chimney. Your chimney will need to be swept more often, but pine is cheaper up front."

A Cord of Firewood

I decided on a mix of birch and fir, and the next Saturday morning before 10 am I had a cord of firewood piled on my frozen lawn. This is the volume of wood that, once it is stacked neatly, makes a wood pile 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8 feet long. It filled the back of Rick’s flatbed dump truck, covered with a black tarpaulin to keep it dry while he drove into town. Once we had decided where to dump it, I stood aside to watch him winch back the tarp on its storage reel, tilt the bed, and dump the tumbling pieces on the snow. I paid him $200, and before he drove away, he gave me a dozen free range eggs from the chickens he kept on his property.

"I also keep chickens. Try some eggs. Here’s my card. Let me know if you want more."

Firewood Delivery

I spent the rest of that Saturday stacking the wood beneath the stairs, sheltered from the weather so it would stay dry. I lit our first fire that night, kindling the dry wood with scrunched up newspaper. No need to chop kindling, for the splintery fir and the birch bark caught easily. We spent the evening in quiet peace, playing Monopoly in front of the hearth, enjoying the pleasures of winter in a frozen northern landscape.


This cord of birch and fir lasted for two years.  We lit fires several times a week between late August and May.
This cord of birch and fir lasted for two years. We lit fires several times a week between late August and May. | Source

Comments 7 comments

kennynext profile image

kennynext 5 years ago from Everywhere

Very nice. Nature holds the true beauty of our world.


tnderhrt23 profile image

tnderhrt23 5 years ago

Very vivid, poignant piece! Lovely!


Doug Turner Jr. 5 years ago

Hmm, makes me wish for a warm fire. Very colorful and nicely written. Enjoyable and serene. Cheers. Well done.


wilderness profile image

wilderness 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

Evening Fire. Yes, I remember such nights, with the snow quietly falling (or the wind howling) outside, and look forward to more this year. Very nice.


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

It was a beautiful day! It was a moving piece and I did feel your love of life and everything that you do and what you see and how you feel. I always really loved 'Norwegian Wood' by the Beatles too. There's something about that beautiful wood. Voting beautiful.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

This reminded me of a winter that we spent on Lake Simcoe. We heated the house mainly with a wood stove, and brr it was cold that year. Even though I remember the cold I have many great memories of that house and the time we spent there.

This was a great piece and I enjoyed very much.


Judi Bee profile image

Judi Bee 4 years ago from UK

Enjoyed sharing this with you - the poem, the story and the photos.

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