When I presented my boyfriend with his birthday gift three years ago, he did his best to appear excited (he clearly wasn't). It was a chiminea. A chiminea is a free-standing, outdoor fireplace. It is shaped like a pear with a smokestack on top and is made out of clay. At the base of the pear, it has a big opening in its "belly" where you load it with wood. Though I bought his for $80 at a big box gardening store, I later found one for myself at a garage sale for $20!
While he was clearly "underwhelmed" when I unveiled the gift to him, all that changed the first evening we used it! He brewed two cups of tea and we sat outside on his swing, talking and rocking in front of the fire. He loved throwing the wood into it and trying to figure out the best way to keep the fire going. As the nights got cooler, we'd bring blankets and jackets and sit closer to the fire.
Rather than purchase wood, we began finding wood in our neighborhood that others had cut and bundled as trash at their curbs. To date, we have never purchased any wood or kindling, and it's exciting to find the perfect piles! We'll call each other excitedly if we drive by a great stash of wood and make a plan to pick it up later that evening.
Two years ago, I surprised him with a "chopping block" (a large section of a tree trunk that I nearly broke my back getting to his house) so that he could chop the found wood into smaller pieces that we then age for the next year. Now he has good reason to use both his chain saw and ax, which was an unexpected bonus gift from me to him (men and their tools)!
The chiminea has become a wonderful form of entertainment. We've hosted fun get-togethers to roast marshmallows and make smores (a very economical kind of party with unbeatable ambience). We've dropped off surprise buckets of chopped (free/found) wood (along with a $1 bag of marshmallows) to friends who we know have fire pits.
The time spent in front of the fire talking, laughing, snacking and sipping tea has been so much better than sitting inside watching TV! It's now an activity that we look forward to during the long, hot summers.
Three years after receiving the gift, he still tells me that it turned out to be one of the best gifts he has ever received!
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