Last night I was sitting on the sofa by a lovely roaring fire, typing away at my blog post. My boyfriend had gone down to the pub with his friend, and I was all alone in the small Welsh cottage. As I got up to get myself a mug of tea, I glanced at the woodburner and noticed that the candle that had been left on top of it (note use of passive) looked a bit lopsided, so I thought I’d better take it off there and put it to one side. The saucer was full of hot melted wax though, so it was rather tricky to do, and I noticed that the flames were licking away at that side of the burner, making it even hotter. Not knowing a whole lot about fires, I opened the woodburner door to try to rearrange the logs. Woosh! The flames licked out of the hinge and one side of the woodburner caught fire. It finally clicked that there was hot hot wax dripping down that entire side of the woodburner. In a few brief moments, many thoughts ran through my head:
– My God, the fire is outside the woodburner.
– Maybe if I leave it, it’ll just burn up.
– I can’t call my boyfriend.
– How am I going to tell him I burnt his house down?
The room was quickly filling with smoke and the smell of acrid candle wax. I realised I had to do something fast. I wasn’t sure water would be the best thing (as I said, I don’t know as much as I should about fires, and all that popped into my head were those hot oil and water experiments we did at school), so I decided to look around for a blanket. I had never put out a fire before, and I am not fond of fires at the best of times. I looked frantically at the blanket in the (empty) dog basket. It looked man-made, and like it might be full of flammable batting. Then I looked at my boyfriend’s long-abused woven wool blanket. For a moment I stood in the middle of the room looking at each in turn as if I were watching a tennis match. I know wool, I thought, and this thought gave me confidence, it doesn’t burn. I grabbed the lovely blanket from the sofa and threw it over the hot wax, pressing down to make sure I blocked out all the air. I lifted the blanket, now sadly covered in wax. The fire was out but what was left of the wax was still smoking with the heat of the woodburner. I scrubbed away as much of it as I could with some newspaper, and then a damp cloth which sizzled as the water evaporated instantly. The room was still full of foul smelling smoke, so I flung open the window and the door. My heart was racing so fast I felt dizzy, but incredibly relieved.
I made myself that cup of tea.
It’s possible that the dog blanket would have done the trick just as well. It’s possible that I actually know as little about fiber as I do of fire, but I can tell you this, when I needed it most, wool was there for me.