The Nelsons now find that almost any celebration is best held outdoors. A roaring fire and classical tunes played by Norman, who is a violinist and orchestra conductor, and his musically inclined friends provide the perfect accompaniment, no matter the festivity. Whether it’s to celebrate Canada Day or Christmas, a dozen or so guests gather to relish the forest and take in the ocean vistas while warming their hands around the fire pit’s flickering flames.
“We had a big family gathering last Christmas. We didn’t cook out, but we had a big fire and mulled wine,” Jenny says. She set the scene aglow with rows of flickering tea lights set atop the loggia’s three stucco walls. “But there is no magic to equal a September or October evening, with a light nip in the air, the sun setting over the Olympic Mountains, and a crackling fire to give cheer to a pleasant gathering of cherished friends.”
The pit functions as a kitchen as well as a campfire with one heck of a view. The Nelsons ran electricity to the fire pit for the spit, which was custom-designed with a heavy-duty marine motor. They even outfitted the pit with an adjustable grill rack, custom-crafted to fit its dimensions so the Nelsons could cook for a crowd.
“We all barbecue,” Norman says. “The spit works directly over the pit. It’s very capable of holding large pieces of meat, even a pig. It’s wonderfully easy to cook over. It’s a circle, so people can even cook their own stuff if they want, even wienies on sticks. It’s a great center for entertaining, an ideal gathering point.”
Even though the fire pit is a main attraction, the Nelsons think their new backyard digs aren’t just for entertaining. “We live out there,” Norman says. They head down to their seaside retreat each day, moving the table in and out from under the loggia’s pergola ceiling to capture sun or shade.
“The smell of the plants — sage, lavender, and rosemary — is really lovely when you sit out there,” Jenny says. “We just take our work or books down there. It’s all very accessible. Norman goes down and plays on the deck.”
Whether Norman’s music wafts through the air to please a crowd or only himself and Jenny, the setting is as warm as the campfire in this friendly backyard retreat.