It is ever a constant source of vexation to find fuel for the hearth. I am certain in bygone days when forests nudged the walls of London, that fuel was an easy commodity. But today, when barren fields lay beyond London’s confines, a hearty haunch of wood is only for the nobility and must be purchased and transported from a great distance. Indeed, the heretic that suffers at the stake under a faggot of wood, is in better stead than the poor Londoner bereft of heat and a simple flame to warm a stewing pot.
Jack forages but they are mere twigs, cast down from the wind from the trees behind garden walls. Our fuel comes from the peat monger, who sells squares or turves of the rich dark bog meat. It burns, but little heat does it give. I must not remember the fires at my manor nor at court, nor the braziers that burned bright outside the pavillion tents when on campaign with my lord of Gaunt. Those are old times now. They’ve got whiskers on them.
For now, Jack and I huddle by our hearth while December howls outside the shuttered windows. The peat glows and sputters, but Jack has warmed the wine and we pass the bowl back and forth between us, wrapped in our cloaks, our knees up to the hearth opening. We close our eyes and dream of summers; of grass as green as emeralds and smelling of sunshine and new promises. We wind our cloaks tighter and feel the long warm days on our faces instead of the stiff ice of the endless winter night ahead.