A Warm Fire and an Open Book

Many years ago we lived on the south coast of New South Wales, in a cottage which was only a stone’s throw from the ocean. The summers were beautiful, hot and humid during the day, but as the sun went down so did the temperature, which meant the nights were nearly always comfortable. We spent those days at the beach, eating cold meats and salad, taking bush walks. Our hair was bleached from the sun; our skin was golden, even though we lathered sunscreen over ourselves.

But this memory relates to a cold winter’s night, when the wind was howling outside, shaking the windows with anger, and rain pelted against the glass trying to force its way inside.

Oblivious to the horrid conditions outside, three people lived inside the cottage. Those people were Barry, Gary and myself. While the storm threatened endlessly outside, we were snug, warm and content inside. The combustion heater roared and a huge pile of cut wood stood piled neatly on the hearth.

Gary and I sat near the fire, in silence, each absorbed in a book. We had been quiet for some time, reading. The silence between us was a comfortable one. I remember looking up as Barry wandered into the room. He paused for a moment, and then disappeared into his bedroom. Moments later he reappeared, book in one hand, dragging a chair with the other. The chair was usually used in his bedroom so that he was comfortable when he sat playing games on the Playstation. This night he had other plans, he had decided to join me and Gary in front of the fire.

He positioned the chair, sat down and opened his book. None of us spoke. We all smiled at each other before lowering our eyes to our books. Barry read a Goosebumps book. I read Tomorrow When the War Began. Gary read a book written by Jeffrey Archer.

That was the beginning of a new routine. Every night, we came together around the fire and read quietly. It was a peaceful time that I’ll never forget.

Of course, new routines come and go and this one was pushed aside with the coming of spring, when a warm fire was no longer needed. Then we all started a new routine. But that’s another story, for another time.

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