Image: wwarby, Flickr
Most everyone has heard the phrase "yule log," and many have enjoyed the various versions of a log-shaped cake that grace the celebration of the winter holidays, whether Christmas or the solstice. But in the age of central heating, few people have carefully reserved the perfect log for a magnificent fire to mark these special days. This year, as we spend the first of what will hopefully be many winters in a stone house on an organic farm, the concept of a yule log has suddenly taken on a special meaning, reminding us of the importance of simplicity and nature, in the face of the complex technology characterizing modern life.It all started with the first fires of the winter: collecting the wood -- sawing, stacking, and drying it -- provides a fair percentage of the recreation in this "quiet life." The fire itself serves as entertainment.
With each new fire, the logs are carefully examined. If dinner will be cooked over the coals, the logs cannot be too large, or they will still be burning as hunger grows. These are easy to find, since we are logging the underbrush and mid-size trees to thin the canopy so that the oaks can grow.
But to get enough warmth to slowly raise the temperature in the cold stone walls requires a roaring blaze, best maintained with big logs. The finest, and dryest, of the big logs we hold back though. The best of these, our "yule log," will grace the fire when our family arrives to join us.
We love the hours spent poking into the flames and relaxing, dreaming of the joyous fire the yule log will create. We look forward to the house filling with people, and anticipate the warmth that will envelop us when we occupy enough rooms to justify turning on the heating instead of huddling about the fire place or a space heater.
But a funny thing happened. Family arrived. While sharing stories from our time apart warmed hearts, the central heating warmed the house. Warm enough to get by with only one sweater, and without the hat. By the time the yule log was laid on the hearth, it seemed almost superfluous.
By unanimous agreement, we turned the central heat off the very next day. Sometimes, less is more.
Wishing everyone a warm heart and simple joy in the New Year!
More to Warm the Heart:
Woman Has Used the Same Christmas Tree Every Year Since 1928
Winter Bean Soup with Thyme and Parsnips
Living Simply: An Alternative American Dream?
The Good Life In New Zealand
For your New Year's Resolution:
Readers' Green New Year's Resolution Photos
10 Easy, Green New Year's Resolutions for the Eco-Slacker