There aren’t too many people in Arizona who are looking to buy a house right now (unfortunately, most are—quite desperately—on the other side of that equation). A friend of mine, however, is actually in the market for a new home. Being the organized person she is, she presented her realtor with a list in which she had neatly detailed her “must haves,” “nice to haves,” and “absolutely nots.” Although it is clearly a buyer’s market, the realtor still raised an eyebrow when she got to #3 on the list of required items.
“Really?” she asked, “A woodburning fireplace? And this is mandatory?”
It wasn’t an unreasonable question. Here in Tucson, we average something like 100 days a year at 100 degrees or above, and while our winters do get considerably cooler than that, a fireplace is hardly required for warmth or comfort.
Nevertheless, my friend assured her realtor that this one was non-negotiable. “I have to have access to fire,” she confided, “I think it’s something in my DNA.”
I think it must be in mine, too. (I guess if you’re human, it’s probably safe to say that fire is in your DNA. After all, it played an important role in the lives of ancient people worldwide.) In my case, at least one side of the family hails from the British Isles, where–every year at this time–our ancestors celebrated Samhain (usually pronounced sow-een). The ancient Celts honored the opposing balance of intertwining forces of existence: darkness and light, night and day, death and life, cold and heat. Samhain is the time when the sun is the farthest south of the equator, and some believe that it was the most important festival as it marked the beginning of a new dark-light cycle. For the Celts, this was the beginning of a new year and the death of the old. But Samhain was not just about the year’s end and the coming of winter; the ancient Celts saw Samhain as a very spiritual time. [Read more...]