It’s spruce that he’s burning. Five split pieces about 18 inches long. They’re cradled in an iron grate that stands a few inches above the armor rock base. The back of the fireplace appears to be cinder block.
It’s a healthy fire. The wood is cured and dry but with enough water and resin remaining to create some snapping and crackling.
In seven minutes a plaid-sleeved arm reaches in and moves the logs with a poker. The fire responds to the repositioning. Six minutes later the hand is back. The blue cuff is buttoned. The hand around the poker shows moderate age. The knuckles are smooth. This time two pieces are flipped, and a third and fourth tamped against the others. One piece is added to the right side where hot coals set it ablaze in no time.
Twelve more minutes and one more split piece of spruce is added to the fire’s left side. For a moment, a lone flame strobes on the bark then goes out. At the crotch of two crossed logs is a bright purple flame. And there is more purple as the fire intensifies.
In four minutes the fire is what it was when I began watching it. It will loop again in 29 minutes.
It’s still dark. Somewhere in the early morning. My flu has lifted marginally. I slept most of yesterday away while the fire looped 49.6 times.