Fire Pit

August 1 , 1999

So we have this thing in our backyard.

The previous owners assured us it was a fire pit. And it uses the same key to turn on the gas as the fireplace.

In the final walk-through the husband indicated in a vague sort of manner that the place where the key goes is under these bricks here. Just turn the gas on (the same way you do in the gas starter fireplace) throw in a match, and poof, voila, instant outdoor mood. This is a handy feature for the Southern California outdoor lifestyle. Evenings usually cool off substantially. Even when daytime temperatures are in the 90's you still might need a light jacket in the evenings.

Excellent I thought.

One of the houses we looked at, during quest #2 for the perfect home, had one of these fire pits. It was a chilly winter afternoon and everyone was outside being cozily warmed.

So we move in and the Gas Company is coming to hook up my dryer. While the guy is here I want him to check out the fire pit. We go outside. I lift up the brick that I think is the one covering the place where the key goes. Nothing. I pry up a few more bricks in the same general area. Still nothing. The Gas guy was nice. When you find it lady call and someone else will come out and have a look.

Before the whole thing turned into the episode of I Love Lucy where she dismantles the barbecue in search of her wedding ring I give up.

Several times over the past year I've lifted a few other bricks in the same general vicinity, still in search of the elusive key place. No luck. In the meantime it's turned into a huge outdoor ashtray.

A few guests have had helpful hints: call the Gas Company (been there, done that), use a metal detector (not a bad idea but I don't have one), and finally, empty out all the lava rocks (and now cigarette butts and leaves) and look for where the gas line comes in and trace it out of the pit.

The final suggestion was the one that had been going through my mind. So yesterday I got started. Man that thing holds a lot of rocks.

I got the heavy duty gloves out (so I wouldn't ruin my manicure or touch anything to gross), I schlepped out the shopvac figuring that would be helpful in getting up the assorted detritus, and started at it. I worked for about an hour yesterday and didn't even make a dent.

The shopvac proved useless since it just kept clogging, necessitating that I shove an old piece of PVC piping down the intake tube to clear the clogs out every five minutes (a process that took ten minutes) so I gave up on that plan.

I started back at it this afternoon. Now I was scooping dirt, leaves, butts, and bug carcasses out with my hands (in gloves).

Chuck came out to see how I was progressing.

Very. Slowly.

I managed to get to what I think is the bottom in one area and see nothing that indicates that there is a gas line coming in to this thing. I did find some rusted metal thing that could be for a fire pit, but it could also be one of those Ninja star things.

I figured that I'd turn it into a planter if this proved fruitless. Some nice bulbs and perennials with a little annual color. It's a nice, sunny spot, right in the middle of the back patio.

Chuck wants to turn it into a fountain. It's not a bad idea but there's no electricity or water running to the area.

I guess time will tell.

For those of you keeping track, tonight is First Sunday of the Month Dinner at Dad's. Can't hardly wait.

Until next time. . .