“It’s a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood”

fireplace02 11-17-14

Well, as Mr. Rogers used to remind us so well, “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood . . . It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood . . .”

Aye, and so it is!

It’s cold and clear, still and beautiful. An inch or so of white stuff blankets the ground. The sun is shining, luminescent crystal. And as the cloud blanket that had tucked us in has pulled away from the chin of my part of the world, the temperature has dropped into the single digits.

Though I fussed yet again this year about the price of firewood (partly embarrassed, I think, that as an able-bodied guy I’ve not been able to just get out this year and cut my own; my chain saw may soon rust), I’m glad I got it bought, loaded, and stacked last week and ready to go! And, forgive me if you do, but I’m so glad I don’t live in a place where fireplaces are purely decorative. Mine’s going strong.

But I keep stepping outside onto the porch. Cold, crisp air is the very best sort for breathing. It reminds you that you’re alive. And if there’s a smell that makes a person happier to be alive than the sweet aroma of New Mexico pinion, I don’t know what it would be.

The folks I bought my oak firewood from ease the pain of the purchase (a little) by sacking up ends and pieces of pinion for kindling and tossing them into the bargain. What a fragrance!

But that’s the wrong word! “Fragrance” implies frou-frou (“fru fru,” if you’re Portuguese). Forgive my grammar, but the aroma of pinion ain’t dainty; it’s strong and sturdy and bold. It makes you want to go out and cut three or four cords of wood, eat three stacks of pancakes, and then go out and saw through and stack about six more. Cords, that is. I try to pace myself on pinion sniffing lest I gain thirty pounds or be tempted to strain a muscle while I’m under its influence.

I’m told that smell is closely tied to memory, and I believe it. For me, pinion has a Thanksgiving and Christmas sort of smell.

Snow’s on the ground. A fire’s laid in the hearth. I get to sing for a Thanksgiving banquet tomorrow. Christmas singing—my favorite kind—is just a heartbeat or two away. And I’m smelling pinion.

This is good.

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s sweet phrase, “the aroma of Christ.” And I love the way Eugene Peterson in The Message paraphrases the apostle’s words in 2 Corinthians 2.

We’re told that wherever Christ’s people go, God brings the “knowledge of Christ” and “people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.” It’s because of Christ’s presence, “we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation.”

Contrary to popular belief, it is what is evil and doomed to perish in this world that gives off the smell of death. What Christ brings, the apostle says, is “an aroma redolent with life.”

Better even than pinion!


 You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! I don’t wish to rush the turkey, but some Christmas music is available there for your enjoyment or for gifts!



Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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