Sitting outdoors on our patios can get quite addictive. Sometimes those gorgeous Summer nights can make us want to linger into the cooler hours – even quite late – alone or with a loved one and just savor what the quiet side of Nature and modern life has to offer. It can be equally nice, or even nicer, to spend a cool afternoon or evening outdoors, simply because it is just so darn fresh and because it offers a sanctuary from the madding crowds. Many times, unfortunately, it is just too cool to really enjoy, in spite of how alluring the prospect of an hour or two out of doors might seem.
Fire pits are the modern landscaping alternative to outdoor heaters. Their gentle flames remind us of the stark importance that fire itself has played in our development as a species. Fire is the one element of nature which serves the most constructive and destructive services of our lives at the most immediate level. Fire cooks, but it also warms. Of all the 4 primary elements, fire is the one most often lacking in our lives. The addition of fire into a landscape is an amazing element. In the modern push towards more outdoor living and comfort in 4 season climates, the elevation of the constructed fire pit to an aspired-to factor in our landscapes is an interesting turn.
Whether a fire pit is an introduced item of some artistic interest, such as the pre fab piece above, complete with some rustic seating around it, or whether – as in the picture below – it is a literal “pit”, mixed into the floor mix among this cement in a Reno patio, they provide that warmth that can extend a party or a simple outdoor sojourn for hours.
The fire pits shown here are all gas-fed with controls, of course, allowing a certain amount of flame to generate the desired heat. Dials are hidden below the brass caps which control the volume of gas used to generate the level of heating desired. Typically red lava rocks which retain heat so well, are placed over the grids where the gas emits and, as the top picture shows, artificial wood pieces can even add a semblance of rustic charm and authenticity.
Nor is this to say that gas-powered fit pits are the be-all and end-all. The picture below shows a simple construction where we excavated a hole, laid in a grill, built up the sides with mortar and local rock and allowed this family to burn wood when they chose. It worked marvelously and is often the focal point for parties.
In the end, fire pits and constructions dedicated to providing heating outdoors of any kind are a terrific development in landscaping construction. They allow us to spend yet more time outdoors, away from televisions and computers and give us that chance we so often need to commune with nature and with one another, late into otherwise cool nights. Naturally, the innate fascination we find regarding fire itself – the licking flames and fire behavior in general – are among the most fascinating scientific and spiritual subjects in our entire history.
If you enlarge this picture, you can see the gas line feeding this fire construction from the bottom.