My dream house has a fireplace in every room.
There's one in the living room, and one in the den and the study. The dining room has a fireplace, and so does the kitchen. It crackles away while the cook is at work, keeping her warm and toasty.
My dream house, which happens to have four bedrooms, a sunroom, a greenhouse, a salt-water lap pool and an outdoor putting green, even has fireplaces in the bathrooms.
They aren't enormous affairs, but they're stylish and efficient. They're tucked between the marble showers and the porcelain-topped vanities, and opposite the soaker tubs - just so the soaker can watch the flames.
My dream house, which happens to exist only in my dreams, has fireplaces just about everywhere. (There is not one in the walk-through closet - did I mention there's a walk-through closet? With his-and-hers shoe shelves and room enough for an armchair? - but this is only because the occupants of the dream house tend not to spend more than 10 minutes in the closet at any given time.)
Point is: I like my fireplaces, so much so they are pretty much on top of my residential must-have list. A laundry room's kind of nice to have, as are a microwave and a vacuum cleaner. But a fireplace is completely mandatory.
In the real world - the world where my dream house doesn't exist - I happen to have a single fireplace. It is not in the bathroom or the kitchen or the den, but in the living room, where it's put to use almost every hour of the day.
In the summer, it's ignored, of course, but that's not the case right now.
"I am getting on the train," I will inform the husband after work each day. "Will you put on a fire?"
"Already on!" he will usually say. (The husband, by the way, shares my passion for burning hunks of wood in the house.)
Most evenings at this time of year, we do not venture outdoors. Instead, we do the contemporary cave-man thing, and hunker down next to the flames.
We read in front of the fire. We eat in front of the fire.
We nap in front of the fire and entertain in front of the fire and play Scrabble in front of the fire. Were it possible to defrost the car in front of the fire, well, we'd do that too.
Frankly, I do not understand how people get by at this time of year if they do not have a fireplace. I suppose they could light a whole lot of candles - like 250, say - or put on that cable TV Yule log thing, or go down to the beach and set some driftwood ablaze, but none of that's quite the same.
I could probably manage without the lap pool. I couldn't cope without the fire.