I was having a meeting with the Couple to Couple Ministry and thought it would be nice to have it in the rec. room in the basement of the rectory. It has a fireplace in it. “How nice it would be,” thought I, “since this is going to be a long meeting with these nice volunteers to have it in this more comfortable room with a fire in the fireplace.” So I went out and bought one of those yuppie-prepackaged logs so that, not only would we have a nice fire, nobody would have to attend it. “Carefree ambiance.” A few minutes before the couples arrived I lit the fire and went upstairs to answer the door.
Funny thing about basement fireplaces; the chimneys are awfully long. Apparently, as I was informed after the fact, you need a pretty good fire going in a fireplace like this one in order to create enough of a draw to cause the smoke to go up. The phrase, “Better late than never,” does not apply here. As we began to gather the weather took a turn for the colder. A nice, crisp breeze began howling down the chimney. At first there was just a light haze in the room caused by the reverse flow of air in the fireplace; the kind of haze that you use to experience at parties before smoking in public became unpopular. The couples were so very polite and made little mention of it though after a while it became difficult to see all the way across the room.
Window were opened but I think it caused a cross draft which added to the problem by creating a cipher sucking more smoke into the room. I was trying my best to keep up appearances and praying that God would reverse the airflow in the chimney and suck all the smoke out of the room. But that hope soon went up in smoke itself.
Finally someone politely said, “Do your eyes sting?” With that we moved the whole kit and caboodle upstairs into a slightly more cramped, but much healthier room. Of course the basement still needed to be dealt with. So the men went down and covered the log until if finally went out. (If we wanted the fire to stay lit it would not have fought for life this strongly.)