Gulf coast winters are almost all about mild, which means if you are the kind of person who likes to watch and poke a campfire in almost never below freezing weather, Houston is the place. Even though I live in the city, I have my refuse pile ready to stoke my little outdoor firepit and just as soon as I step out of my shorts and flipflops for more than a day or two, I am going to start one. That refuse pile has more than a few things that I intend to burn, things like boards from 30 years ago from a an old railroad desk that served a newly wed couple in all manner of makeshift furniture, a few other things that I couldn’t throw away while cleaning up and yet couldn’t keep, all to be released as a pleasing smoky aroma rising to the heavens. So I am ready. But mostly what I am ready for is the winds of change I sense are coming…
I don’t know how change comes to you. For me, there have been times when I labored under the illusion of control of my life, and then there have been those amazing times, far more often that I deserved, when doors opened that I didn’t even know I was standing in front of. Then there are the times like now, when a few doors have closed. While I sit on idle, I am gearing up to move forward, clearing whatever path that looks promising. Behind this all, I am trusting in the reality that if everything did go the way I thought it should, my life would have been less rich. So recently I have gotten it into my head that if God is willing, maybe the country life, a place where these two crazy large hounds I have won’t be so interested in chewing on sprinkler heads, a place my family can sink their hands into something other than Houston gumbo and clay, and a place where my insomniac tendencies in late night meanderings won’t appear so disturbing. If you consider this kind of change, you can begin to think differently about your firepit options.
I liked the idea of a cast iron stove. Thinking about it, I had visions of the old camp house we had, and that rusty old, long, heavy stove, with us huddled around it, Dad teaching us about damping and warning about sleeping with a live fire. If you move to the country, you’re bound to have a barn, and then, well, an old cast iron stove inside it is only fitting. So late one night, on an eBay auction that seemed meant for me, I purchased one, well over 100 pounds a bargain at the 25 dollars winning price, pick up only, Shiner Texas if you please.
It took an all day Friday jaunt because even though I had looked at the map, the old farm where we were to pick up the stove really was in the country and closer to Victoria than Sealy.
Texas IS big ya’ll.
We drove through rolling fields and up the soft-dirt, rudded lane to an old farmhouse that was at least fifty years old. The seller, Rhonda who I would come to like instantly, had told us to just come on to the back porch where the stove sat, if she wasn’t there. When I saw it, it was what I hoped and on this warm fall day, my vision was taking hold.
I could see my barn, not yet built, and knew that this old stove, would make a warm welcome for whoever or whatever should visit my barn.
Bob took hold of one side, I got on the other side, mother stood back and cheered. Sweat beaded on Bob’s forehead and we didn’t budge that stove one inch. The seller wasn’t kidding when she said the thing was heavy.
Chickens and farm cats formed a curious but distant perimeter which wasn’t nearly as distant as the gap between the waiting Honda and where we had inched the stove to. Rhonda pulled up.
Giving us permission to close the gap between car and stove across her yard, we three women offered suggestions to Bob, who was clearly going to be the brawn to accomplish this part of my dream. It turned out most of Rhonda’s suggestions were the most helpful and while my first thought when I saw this woman after negotiating with her online, was she that was pretty, she turned out to be just as pretty on the inside. A mix of feminine, clear blue eyes that looked directly at you and independent farm woman, she had an internal joy mirrored in her smile. I think she too once found a reason, a passion to move to the country for solace and peace. It would be her stove, purchased by her from the original owner that would grace my barn yet to be built, only a dream, a path I was preparing in the event that it was my fate to travel this change.
As we pulled down the lane, waving goodbye, the old stove creaking as we maneuvered the unpaved roads, I wondered briefly if I had maybe lost my mind. Between a distinct feeling of déjà vu that was more a remembered sleeping dream of this moment in time and the fact that neither my husband nor my mother thought it necessary to remind me that this preparatory event might be a bit preemptive, I watched the afternoon sky surrender to a waning sun. The sky to the east looked strange, rays radiating in the wrong direction as our car bumped across the road, and Bob said, “That’s weird, but pretty, huh?” I thought about unexplainable things.
It just might be that one day or night, you come to my barn and if it’s a chilly southwest Texas night, I will build us a fire in this old cast iron stove. We will sit around its warmth and I will talk with you about whatever you like. We can argue politics or we can talk about the big questions in life. We can think together on hard questions or talk about the day to day things that turn molehills into mountains. I can share with you your sorrows and your triumphs. We can sit and be quiet and although I am not as good at quiet as I am with noise, I am learning the value of it, so if that’s the comfort you want from a communion with me, we will stoke that old fire and watch the embers and master our own thoughts separate but together.
I don’t know what these winds of change are that are blowing. I am not in charge of where they blow. I am not sure what I am sensing and maybe God’s plan has nothing to do with barns and stoves. But I know it’s a sanctuary that I crave and I desire to share it, and whether God provides it in a barn or somewhere else.. well its up to Him. I do know that dreams and hope are what keep us alive and unknowingly preparing for new paths we never dreamed of. So whether I am crazy or not, I think that old 25 dollar stove dream is a bargain. Frankly, I have already gotten my money’s worth. Happy Monday, fellow dreamers.
“I use to think..oh well if i cant get there on a horse, i am not going.” M. Campos, 2007
Today’s Bible verse: Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places; Isiaha 32:18