Life in the pit: constructing an outdoor fireplace

Yesterday the outdoor thermometer read 40 degrees.  That’s right.  Forty freakin’ degrees Celsius.  It’s not the official temperature du jour according to Environment Canada, but that was the temperature in the sun.

The plot of ground already de-sodded. Yes, that's my shadow in the picture. Darn sun.

Another look at the calendar!  Yup, only May.  I thought maybe I missed a couple of months in some Rip Van Winkle fiasco.

Clearly the summer recreation season is upon us even though it’s not quite summer by the calendar.

The gardening!  The camping!  The s’mores!  Oh be still thy palpitating heart.

Nothing tastes better than s’mores done outdoors, made with marshmallows which are toasted until their skin is just a little crispy and the innards are but gooey goodness.

Few things are as relaxing as sitting around a campfire, even (or especially?) if it’s in your backyard.

Tip: you'll need more than four bags of river stones for a decent firepit area. Trust me.

Of course, lighting your grass afire will not bring you closer to your beloved s’mores (though it may introduce you to your local firefighters.)  In this case, you need a firepit.

There are many kinds of firepits.  Some are made with brick.  Some are made of stone.  Some are large like a fireplace.  Others are contained in metal like a fire pot or chiminea.

Regardless of the material you use, a firepit will set you back at least $100 unless you can finagle some old bricks off someone who is in demolition (or less popular, your neighbour has some floating around his backyard.)  Otherwise, you’ll be shopping for bricks, stones, or a pre-made fireplace or chiminea.  I’m sure there are benefits to each and every style of firepit.  I’m primarily concerned with the s’mores here.  How can each style of firepit bring me closer to s’mores?

See? Four bags of stone doesn't quite cover all the weed barrier.

I personally like contained fires, mostly because I have a touch of pyrophobia, but also because I don’t like to spend the entire evening batting at cinders flicking through the air like mosquitoes.  Open fires tend to discharge more fire-flakes; I prefer the caged in fires that prevent combusting not-so-spontaneously.

Whether you build your own or opt for pre-made, be sure to find a nice location that will encourage fireside songs and bonding, preferably flat and grassless and far from neighbours who may not appreciate your rendition of Kumbaya or worse, your imitation of the Pussycat Dolls.

If such a spot is not available to you, make one with either paving blocks or rocks.  River rocks make a natural looking firepit that makes you feel like you’re on the banks of a river or the shores of a lake (is that a loon I hear?)

Make sure there’s no fire-loving material anywhere near the firepit (with the obvious exception of what you plan on burning.)

Close to completion. Just needs one more thing.

Birch wood is the only kind of wood for a firepit, though admittedly, you sometimes have to make do with inferior wood that doesn’t snap, crackle, and pop like breakfast cereal.  I’m not sure tossing Rice Krispies onto the open flame will work.

Some kindling, balled up newspaper, and birch built into a tent ought to make you a nice fire, though if your fire-making skills are rusty, defer to your family’s pyromanic and let them get the fire started.

Be sure to have sticks on hand for weenies and marshmallows.  You can even buy pre-cut sticks so you don’t have to put yourself in danger with a sharp implement whilst combing the nearby forest for sticks.

Combine graham crackers, roasted marshmallows, and chocolate.  Smush together.  Eat.  Get sticky stuff from chin to finger.  May I suggest Aero bars?  They taste delish in s’mores even though I’m not a huge fan of them in their non-melted state.

Summer is but a short season.  Get out and enjoy every lick of it, especially those evenings just begging for campfires.

Most importantly, it gives you a chance to chat with family and friends while avoiding all those TV reruns which make conversation difficult (unless shaking your first at playoff hockey is your idea of bonding.)

And, of course firepits bring you closer melted chocolatey goodness.

Have I mentioned that I really like s’mores?

Ah, two more things. Enjoy.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Laura Best says:

    Sadly,I’ve never eaten s’mores.

    1. Miss Julie says:

      You’ll have to try them some time. The combination is kind of weird (like how can graham crackers be FUN?) but together they create a delicious sticky mess.

  2. You’ve done it once again! Incredible writing.

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