It’s not fall yet, but tonight it came close. A cool wind blew through Wichita and suddenly it was in the 60s, which is not so remarkable unless you’ve spent the last few months cursing relentless runs of three-digit days. It’s like somebody finally opened a window in a very hot room: It’s now plausible that the days are getting shorter and the long Midwest summer is finally on the wane. Thank God. And so as the night comes on I celebrate by building a fire in the chiminea and lifting a glass to nobody in particular. It’s just me and the cat.
Something about a campfire. Something about the constellations. They never change. Together they take you back to every fire you ever stirred into a cloud of sparks, every late night you gazed up at the heavens and wondered why your worries seemed significant. That’s how it is tonight. A little fire puts out just enough light to make shadows, and in the shadows it’s sometimes possible to imagine the faces of friends and family, some gone now and some not. You think of old jokes and old stories and half-remembered poems — all told around a fire like this. I don’t know; maybe it’s not the fire so much as the coming fall. But tonight, this cracked chiminea from Lowe’s seems like a wise investment.