When shopping for my house, I made a list of 'must-have' features that included porch, fireplace and hardwood floors. The house I eventually shelled out the ducats for not only had all the features on my list, it had two fireplaces – one on the main level in what is my dining room, and another in the partially finished basement. Sweet.
Oddly, as much as I wanted a fireplace, in two years in the house, and in spite of the presence of firewood and manufactured artifical logs that crackle and burn cleaner, there has not yet been a single fire lit, because I thought it would be wise to have the chimney checked out first, and I just never got around to that step. I thought about it many times – usually on the cold nights that are perfect for a fire I was afraid to light because I had not yet found my own personal chimney sweep. (C'mon, there's no chimney sweeper gang prancing through the city like in Mary Poppins.) And in the same two-year period, I was also planning to clean out the basement fireplace, which had some ashes in it from the previous owner. I know what you’re thinking, and it's true, I probably won’t be winning any Martha Stewart awards any time soon.
It turned out the ashes were about three inches deep, and while filling four WalMart bags with someone else’s ashes, it dawned on me that I was like Cinderella. Granted, there was no evil stepmother or stepsisters, no fairy godmother, I’m not exactly a young maiden, and my Prince Charming was already present, so the parallel was limited to the domestic labor part, but hey, it was my night of Tennessee whiskey-fueled imaginings and flights of fancy. The Boyfriend Prince and I were sharing space, each content in an activity, and I gotta say, I found my chosen activity somewhat enjoyable (maybe it was the Jack Daniel’s), and felt like an archeologist while examining a few pieces of curved metal, some long nails and screws, and a corner bit of cardboard that had somehow survived the fiery fate of whatever it was once a part of. And I never knew there were so many colors of ash – white, brown, light gray, dark gray, black. Enjoyable and educational.