How to build a fire pitFor the holidays! It's easier than you think. And yes, you definitely want one.
Published in the December 2013 issue
You could just build a fire somewhere, then put it out when you're done. Or you could buy one of those metal basins at a place like Williams-Sonoma. But by actually digging into the dirt and constructing a pit whose sole purpose is to contain a campfire — by permanently incorporating it into the tiny speck on the earth that belongs to you — you are making a commitment. A commitment to your family, a commitment to your friends, and a commitment to having fun even when it's cold out.
1. Decide whether or not to check if local laws permit the building of a fire pit in your yard.
2. Pick a location. Not under a tree. Some corner of the yard where you envision friends sitting around reminiscing about old times with love and friendship, plus old jealousies bubbling just beneath the surface.
3. Measure the hole. The diameter should be four feet or five feet. Make an X, with the axis at the center of what will be your fire pit. Use string to mark a circle on the grass around your X. Measure all of these with a tape measure or your feet, which are probably about a foot long if you have big feet.
4. Dig the hole. It should be about ten inches deep, with the sides gently angled out, like a bowl with a flat bottom.
5. Using a spade, shave off the layer of grass all around the perimeter of the pit, going back about a foot. Use these scraps of sod to patch dead spots in your lawn. They might take.
6. Line the entire inside perimeter of the pit with bricks placed vertically, as close together as you can, and buried about two inches. You will use about 30 bricks. Then arrange the rocks along the top of the ring, jamming each one into the soil a bit. As you place each rock, try to fit it into the one next to it so that they are kind of spooning.
7. On the dirt circle around the pit, lay the remaining bricks flat to create a hearth, with one row pointing out like the rays of the sun, and then, finally, a row around that, like an O, containing everything.
8. Dump sand into the center of the pit and spread evenly. Build a fire. Remove the cap from a bottle of bourbon. Pass back and forth between you and your fishing buddy, wife, girlfriend, or other traditional male companion. Do not pass to children. If there are children, you could do s'mores.
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