The wood pile.

The wood pile.

A few years ago, we finally bought our first house. Before that move, we lived in a rental that had a wood burning fireplace in the living room. Without a doubt, it was the single greatest feature of the house. Our dogs loved it, too, especially on a cold winter day when we would all camp out in the living room and stay warm by the crackling hearth.

Our new house has a gas log fireplace. It’s convenient and clean, but it doesn’t have the aesthetic value of a real fireplace. It doesn’t get very warm. It doesn’t crackle. And worst of all, it doesn’t smell like a fireplace. It just sits there and makes a perfect, hissing flame.

Every time.

A few days ago we had some of our pine trees in the back yard cut down and the stumps ground down. The trees were dead, so they gave up their real estate for a stone fire pit, where we’ll burn their remains and enjoy the outdoor aesthetic of a campfire without having to sleep in the woods.

The guys who cut the trees down were kind enough to make me a stack of wood from the trees they took down. And as I looked at that pile, I wondered what it is about a stack of firewood that seems so satisfying. Is it appealing because it makes us feel prepared for something, or do we just love the look of it? Maybe it appeals to the collector and organizer in me that loves to see things neatly stacked and put in their place.

I don’t know.

But, I do know that it makes me look forward to a chilly fall night, when we can all sit around the fire and enjoy the beautiful, flickering light.

And the smell.


Mark Archer is a Sundance and Cannes award-winning filmmaker, author and speaker. His newest film, “Inwood Drive”, is available on Amazon and at


Sundance Award-winning Producer/Director.

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