Throughout the summer and into the fall, sitting outside near a fire evokes summer camp, a perfect ending to a long day enjoying nature, bee stings and muscle strain. A song around the campfire, s’mores and stick-roasted sausages perform a prelude to a night sleeping under the stars. But why stop when the trees are bare and cold night air nips the nose? Gathering around a fire forges friendship. Time spent at the computer, scanning Facebook, watching movies or shopping online should be cast aside for a warm fire, friends, a mug of spiked hot chocolate and ok, stick-roasted sausages.
Fire pits were originally used by nomadic people to cook and to provide heat. Pits were dug in the ground (an option today, too), and when it was time to move on, the pit was closed and sealed. As time progressed, the communal fire also became a social focal point. Today a typical home fire pit, or fire bowl, is constructed from metal, stone, brick, clay or concrete.
According to Landscape Architect and Eye of the Day newsletter contributor Sally Farnum, in the early days of her career during the 70s and 80s, fire pits were out of fashion and most all of her clients wanted them removed. Now and for the last several years, almost every one of her clients has requested either a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace be included in the landscape design.
As the weather begins to chill, we have more and more customers asking about fire bowls. Low, round concrete planters are available in a number of sizes and can be easily converted to a gas-flamed or wood-fired fire bowl. The same is true for terracotta planters, especially low bowls. For both, some precautions must be taken to prepare them for life as a fire bowl. A large “bonfire” will most likely crack the bowl, so it is best to start with a small fire, at least the first few times, to temper the bowl. It is also important to have a bed of sand in the bottom of the bowl to absorb some of the heat. Smooth stones or glass rock (available in a multitude of colors) can also be placed in the bowl for a decorative effect and to diffuse the heat.
Don’t spend your winter at your indoor fireplace, or glued to a screen, treat yourself and your family and friends to a party around your outdoor fire enjoying the nip of the air layered clothing, hot drinks, and those sausages.