He wrote the book

Toasty-Christmas-Fire-596520By Michael Smerconish

I’m typing in front of a crackling hearth, with regret that March has arrived.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready for spring. But, soon, the arrival of warm weather will also mark the end of the wood-burning season. Such is my love for burning fires all winter long that when our family vacationed in Florida at Christmas, I made sure to turn on a “Yule log” through Comcast’s Xfinity on Demand before I’d let anyone open presents. I can’t be the only one. Watching a wood fire burn on TV is a tradition that dates back to 1966, when WPIX-TV broadcast the first for viewers in New York City.

Comcast’s recent incarnation singed my TV screen for 48 minutes, but that length is not exactly a barn burner by Norwegian standards. In the Scandinavian nation, a program inspired by a book about firewood featured a live, burning fire for eight straight hours, and it was a hit. The only other on-screen action was supplied by the hands that were occasionally visible when tending the fire. I was pleased, but incredulous, when I read Sarah Lyall’s account in the New York Times, until I myself spoke with Lars Mytting, author of Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood – and the Soul of Wood-Burning.