Just Add Firepit: An Instant Backyard Staycation

May 23, 2020

This Memorial Day Weekend will find us in the garden and at the grill, as usual, but, after two months of family lockdown, we’re adding a new element to our traditional long-weekend staycation. A new firepit!

A new fire pit grate inspires the building of a focal point for relaxing outside the family treehouse.A new firepit will provide a new focus for household fun this year: the kids’ treehouse!

The internet is busy with talk of how different this Memorial Day Weekend will be from pre-pandemic, warm-weather holidays since so many of us are home bound.

To be honest, Memorial Day usually finds us in our yard anyway. That’s because, here in Northern New England, the weekend normally presents us with the very first opportunity we’ve had to plant non-cold hearty crops in the garden. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed!

So we aren’t expecting this Memorial Day to feel much different around here. Having said that, the family has been home almost exclusively for going-on three months now. As a result, we’ve spent much more time in our gardens, woods and backyard than usual this year. Old hat! So I thought it would feel more like a holiday weekend if I came up with something new to do. (We aren’t alone!) Or, in this case, a new place in our yard to do something we already know we enjoy: campfires!

First, I got a hold of a heavy-duty wagon-wheel fire pit grate and poker. (Liked the ones I found so much, we started selling them!) Then, I went looking for a new focus for fun right here on our own land.

A heavy duty wagon wheel fire pit grate with heavy duty fire poker.

This heavy duty wagon-wheel fire grate and heavy duty fire poker are a perfect fit for the kids’ home-away-from-home treehouse.

We have about ten acres of land. The house is situated on one semi-cleared acre on one side of a stream, and the rest is a wooded nine-acre piece on the other side of the stream from the house.

None of it is great land. Steep. Rocky. Not particularly valuable. Unless what you like is peace and quiet and a good number of maple trees for making syrup in the spring. So the land suits us just fine as it is, thank you very much!

After a bit of roaming about, visiting all of the usual family hangout spots and wondering if it was a good “new” place for a campfire, I remembered that our kids had asked whether they could have a fire at their tree house.

That was a few years ago. And I recall answering with a good amount of hemming and hawing and “appropriate parental supervision” -ing. I think I made the eventual “yes” so not-fun that they dropped the idea all together.

The truth is, at 10 and 13, they can handle a small fire on their own. So that’s where I headed!

Wood ready to go up in flames in a fire pit.The heavy-duty wagon wheel fire pit grate is made of solid steel and designed with upturned ends to help hold your logs in place. It measures about 24″  in diameter, making it a perfect partner for the 24″ heavy-duty fire poker.

It turned out to be perfect. After finding the only flat land on an otherwise pretty steep slope, I cleared the area of brush, making sure to get down to the dirt. I then went hunting for rocks and used them to form a circle with an internal diameter several inches larger than the fire pit grate.

For effect—because, at this point, I had decided to surprise the kids—I laid a nice, small fire, and positioned the fire poker to impress. I arranged the kids’ small Adirondack chairs around the new firepit, and voila!

I am happy to report that I pulled that surprise right off, and that the new firepit occupied the kids while their dad and I slaved away on a new terraced garden. I’m holding out for an invitation. It hasn’t arrived yet, but the weekend is still young!

Side view of family treehouse site.

An epic treehouse, two chairs, a hammock and a firepit. Does life get any better? We think not.