Photo courtesy of Westminster Teak
Now that it is past the autumnal equinox we begin to think of coziness and warmth as the days begin to get shorter and cooler. What better way to do that than to sit around the fire with friends with hot cider and S’mores outside around a beautiful fire pit or fireplace in furnishings that perform well despite fickle fall weather.
Photo by Rob Cardillo, design by Mark Mendel and Monterey Masonry.
The 20 minutes it takes to cook a pizza in a regular oven might not seem like much of a wait, but it will feel like an eternity once you have the opportunity to flash cook a pie in an old-fashioned, wood-fired pizza oven. A Neapolitan-style pizza bakes to perfection in just less than three minutes in the traditional dome-shaped chamber, and the experience of pulling one, bubbling and crisp, from the oven is positively addictive.
In South Africa's coastal grasslands, to explore a forest is to walk along its canopy—indeed, it's the only way to observe an extraordinary group of so-called underground trees, where only the uppermost leaves and branches are visible. The rest of the tree is submerged below the deep sandy soil, creating a clonal network of underground "forests." By all appearances, the forests are merely low shrubs, which presents the philosophical riddle: if a tree falls and no one can see the forest, what of the forest?
Ash and warm winds from an approaching fire are a death knell for many plants, but others have evolved to survive in fire-prone landscapes. Some of these, such as the beautiful flowering shrubs and trees of the genus Banksia, are adapted to even thrive in wildfires.
Before European settlers arrived in North America, prairie fires were a spectacular seasonal occurrence, usually ignited by lightning or Native American inhabitants before the spring rains and often raging for days across thousands of acres. The fires were a crucial part of the life cycle of these native grasslands, which once covered a vast, triangular swath of North America, from the eastern foothills of the Rockies east to the Ohio River Valley and tapering north into what is now Minnesota and Wisconsin.