Lots of people I know long for light, bright, airy houses. I prefer a warm, private sort of space where I can coccoon for an afternoon with a good book and feel like I won't be bothered.

I like warm wood and old paisley prints and enveloping velvet and drape-y silk. I like stacks of books and old lamps and cozy nooks and crannies.

But most of all, I love sitting in front of a fireplace, which is what I'm doing right now.

Evenings, after my children are tucked in, I have an hour or two (depending how tired I want to be the next day) all to myself to relax in front of my fireplace with a book and a glass of something good. My dogs, Fiat and Leo, usually stretch out in front of the fire with me. It's my favorite time of day and my favorite spot.

I think maybe I like fireplaces so much because I grew up in an old farmhouse in Bell Buckle, TN with no electric heat of any kind. We heated with wood and were cold a lot of the time (I swear to God I slept in a hat and mittens in the winter. My parents seemed to believe that it would improve our character to know what it feels like to be cold unless someone went out and got more wood from the pile.) but the room with the woodstove was always toasty and I spent many afternoons sprawled out in front of the fire, reading. Now my children do the same, although we do HAVE heat we can turn on if we like.

Tonight the children and I were hanging out in front of the fire together. It sort of lulls them into a sleepy mood. They were each drawing or reading and Elliot, my six year old, said out of the blue: "Mama, I'm glad we don't have TV and I'm glad we have a fireplace." This was a switch, since my children tell me relatively often that I am ruining their lives by refusing to get cable (we DO have a TV, but it only gets two network channels).

I told him that I agree.