Saturday, December 10, 2011

Getting Ready for Christmas, #1 The Mantel



My husband and I picked up every single rock for this 6 and a half ton fireplace. We’re lucky enough to live in a log home. There’s nothing like a fire in the fireplace on a cold wintery night especially if there’s a foot or more of snow on the ground and it’s almost December 25th.

I thought I’d write about the special “loggy” look of Christmas here at Big Pine Lodge for the next several posts. I’m starting with the fireplace because the collection of rocks was started before the basement was even dug. We have 62 acres of woods criss-crossed with trails that we made. It was easy to find field stones, some the size of boulders (we left those), along these trails. Our pile of rocks grew over the course of many months. We amassed about 13 tons and what we didn’t use in the fireplace we used around the base of the foundation outside.

The fireplace is seven feet wide and soars up to a height of about 26 feet. We had to leave a gap of about 8 inches between the top rocks inside and the ceiling because, as a totally full log construction, the whole house settled quite a bit when the logs shrank. We experienced about 5 – 6 inches of settling over the first three years as the logs noisily popped and cracked during the drying process. We left similar gaps above windows and doors to save us from broken windows. Frames slid over skirting boards until the gaps closed.

The fireplace is the center piece of the great room and a fun conversation starter: Can you find the rock that looks like a hockey mask? A russet potato? A tennis ball? A brain?