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A. Ray Lee ss

Rocking by the cozy fire 

By A. Ray Lee


Cold nights and frosty mornings bring back warm memories.  

Late on a dreary December evening years ago, I came in from a day in the woods where I had been cutting firewood to sell as a supplement to the salary I received as pastor of a small church. I quickly showered, hurried to the kitchen and sat down to a warm meal with the family. 

Afterward we moved to the den that had recently been added to our house. As the children played on the floor, Effie and I pulled our chairs close to a large fireplace, where oak and hickory logs were blazing.  

The warmth from the fire permeated the room. As we recounted the events of the day, I began to doze, and memories from my childhood came unbidden.     

By my fifth birthday, I had lived in four different houses. All had some things in common. They were covered by rusty tin roofs, which often leaked. The walls of unpainted, weathered boards had gaps that allowed the winter wind to whistle through. There were cracks in the floors through which the cold seeped upward. The only heat was provided by a smoky fireplace. All those houses had consisted of four rooms and a path to the outside privy. 

I dreamed of someday having a home that had adequate heating, electric lights, and an indoor bathroom. Later in my youth, as our family prospered, the dream came nearer to being realized when we moved into a new, small farmhouse that was more comfortable than the old ones.  

It had no running water for a bathroom, and the source of heat was a small fireplace. The only light at night came from a coal oil lamp.  

In due time, I grew up, acquired a formal education, married and became a pastor. After several moves in ministry, the day eventually came when we had purchased our own house.  

We chose a brick one with central air and heat, a modern kitchen and not one but two indoor baths, as well as all the amenities I had hoped for as a youth. 

As I continued to slowly rock, warmth from the fire penetrated deeply into my body, relieving the aching of tired muscles. When the flames burned down to glowing embers, I moved to bed and snuggled under a hand-made quilt saved from the old days on the farm.  

There are things from the past that are irreplaceable. Nothing can substitute for rocking in a chair before an open fire for a weary body and soul.  

Troubles seem to rise up the chimney with the smoke, leaving a sense of security and peace. 

Those times are in my distant past. Age and circumstances have wrought many changes.  

But there are still days when, in my mind, I retreat to the image of a glowing fire and two rocking chairs and lose myself in the warmth of precious memories. 

Postscript for all you vintage car aficionados: Thank you for reading my columns. You are correct. Rockford did drive a Firebird, not a GTO.