We've been having a fire in the fireplace nearly daily since Christmas... ambiance for the holidays and all that. It was quite pretty, cheerful even.
But apparently my allergy / reaction to wood smoke over a period of time is still as strong as it was when I was a child, in a family with a wood stove. In all likelihood, the wood stove is the -reason- I have so many allergies. I used to spend every winter as a child sick from October through April; it finally cleared up when I went away to school and spent the winter with gas heat instead of wood. Pink eye, colds and flus, and ear infections also all cleared up as a result.
Today I started out the day majorly sick, after having had several days where I wasn't sleeping well and felt generally ick. I went to work anyway - why stay home in bad air when I knew the bad air was the cause? So I hacked and sneezed my day through work, and Daniel cleaned up at home so it was ready when I got back. We're running an air filter in the room now too, and both showered.
I am sad that we can't enjoy a wood fire. But I am so glad we know each other and trust each other so well that I could lodge my complaint with complete trust that the issue would be solved promptly. Health and safety really are top priority for us.
As a result of my reaction to it, I read a bit online, and learned that children who live in homes with wood stoves or wood fireplaces have a far higher rate of asthma and respiratory illness as adults. I also learned that wood smoke contains a slew of potent and nasty things, many of which contribute to urban air quality problems, particularly in winter, and that in some ways wood smoke is more of a health risk than cigarette smoke. And burning wood in your own fireplace can set off your neighbor's asthma. I never had cause to consider those questions before, so I've learned a bit as a result of that reading.
I think my appreciation of fire going forward will be limited to occasional use of clean-burning candles, gas heat, and maybe limited outdoor fires.... Not yet sure what I think about the outdoor. They're still a risk, but it's easier to keep myself out of the way of the smoke (and fungus and misc other junk). I do still react to them too tho.