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Into the Outdoors: Autumn and Fire Pits

As promised last week, let’s take a deeper look at fire in the autumn. There is just something comforting about a fire on a cool evening. Perhaps it goes back to our primal roots.

A fire pit of some sort is almost a necessity. A lot of people throw one together from available materials. This includes rocks, concrete blocks and bricks. However, there is the possibility that these materials won’t stand the heat of the fire. When this happens, they can explode, sending shrapnel flying through the air. I have known only one person to which this happened, but he got a nasty cut on his face from a piece of brick.

There are a lot of commercially made fire pits on the market, for a wide variety of prices. One of the most common is simply a bowl with legs, accompanied by a dome shaped mesh lid. Made of metal, they avoid the problem of cracking. I have had one of these for a number of years. You can go all the way from a tiny fire to a significant blaze.

Recently, I purchased a “smokeless” fire pit. It is a Coozoom, and it was very reasonably priced on Amazon. It operates on a rather unique principle. The smoke passes through holes on the top, where it is reignited by the main flame. It is, of course, not totally smokeless, but it really cuts down on smoke production. It comes with legs and a cooking grate. Although it is sometimes considered to be okay on a patio or deck, I like to put a heavy duty fireproof mat under it. It’s compact and easily portable, yet it makes a nice fire. It can keep you warm, and you can also cook over it. You can also get a mesh insert that lets you burn wood pellets.

Since I love to sit on the deck during the autumn, I have come up with a number of ways to keep warm while doing so. In addition, I have a little wood stove, which I bought from a catalog years ago. It has long legs, so it is safe on the deck, and it radiates a good bit of heat. For whatever reason, the fire requires a good bit of tending, but it’s worth it.

Last, but by no means least, we have the chiminea. These have a bulbous shape, with a rather long stack. The front is open, so you can see the fire. They are available in a variety of materials, although the ceramic ones are the most popular. They come with a stand with long legs. Here is a word of caution. You cannot burn charcoal in the ceramic models. The fire is just too hot, and it will crack. I especially like to burn pine cones in mine, as they make for what can best be described as a pretty fire.

As for what type of wood to use, it depends on what you are doing. For just a plain old keeping warm fire, you can use whatever wood you have available, including non treated scrap lumber and pine. If you plan to cook, you can use any wood that you would normally use for smoking food.

This is the time of year when a fire is the most enjoyable. Enjoy it.

On another front, this is what I like to call “wasp season.” It’s not yet cold enough to kill them off, but much of their food supply is gone. That makes for some very unwelcome guests at cookouts and other outings. They are especially attracted to fruit, as they have a sweet tooth.

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