We had our first fire last night, just as the month of October came to an end. And so, the winter season begins in our little stone house: that time of year when all of us are busy in one way or another keeping the fire going. The boys are in charge of the firewood and of keeping a good supply of it stacked indoors. I build and start the fire each morning, a task that gets me up a good twenty minutes earlier than usual. And all of us keep a vigilant eye on the fireplace throughout the day, to make sure the wood is burning, the flames are alive and the embers are fueled. Heating our house in the winter requires the cooperation of the whole family, because suddenly, we have the company of a hungry but warming guest, a guest in need our constant tending but around which it's nice to gather, a presence that is very much alive among us, with its glowing light and crackling heat.