I like fire. Not in the way an arsonist enjoys burning things or a smoker depends on it to ignite their habit, but rather as an admirer of its beauty and the benefits fire provides. Yes, the fire-fueled steam age is directly responsible for creating the industrial age with its coal-fired furnaces filling the sky with the ingredients of acid rain, but as an individual who uses it for more personal reasons, fire seems somehow mystical. Fires are like snowflakes; no two are alike.

A famous dead American rock and roll singer, artist, poet and spokesperson for youth once kept journals filled with his writings as a teenager. I read where he talked about destroying the journals then later wishing he could recover them. I always imagined he burned his writings otherwise if he simply threw them away they might still exist somewhere waiting to be discovered. (“Come on baby light my fire”) Fire is so final. It makes cremation the absolute end of physical existence. If they burn your body you’ll never end up traveling the world as a mummy in a museum exhibit.

Fire is temporal art that consumes itself. Even the evidence of mass destruction which result from fires in nature eventually disappears as new life takes root and grows. Fire is a useful tool in nature that helped maintain prairies and forests suitable for supporting all life. Interference by man in his attempts to eliminate wildfires/forest fires has caused large amount of animal habits to become so choked with underbrush that only the smallest creatures can survive there.

I think being a Boy Scout taught me how to efficiently make a fire and enjoy its benefits. What is more basic than using a campfire for cooking and warmth? I try to avoid being a proud person, but there are some things in my life I take pride in doing well. One of these is starting a fire with a single match. Burning all the accumulated underbrush and dead limbs from our property several times a year (an all day process) or having a fire in the fireplace when the predicted high temperature is under 50 F, I don’t like to waste matches. Another lesson Scouts taught when your supply is limited.(no, I’ve never started a fire by rubbing two sticks together) There is also an art to building a fire in a fireplace. Starting with a hearth cleared of ashes from any previous fire, choosing the right size and amount of kindling, smaller and gradually larger pieces of wood, making sure enough of the wood is thoroughly dry to help ignite any wood that might still contain moisture, arranging all of this to allow maximum airflow from top to bottom to feed the flames and then adding generous amounts of crumpled newspaper under the fire-stand holding this pyramid of firewood. Finally striking the match and watching mesmerized as your creation grows, burning the wood as it generates the heat you enjoy.

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About Marcus

Who me? Introverted, neurotic, self-absorbed, increasingly cynical observer of human nature and part time social critic in hiding. Most of my life spent avoiding growing up. The naive idealistic passions of youth have evolved into the eclectic eccentricities of adulthood. Northeast Florida small-town native, related to people I can't relate to. Simultaneously my own best friend and worst enemy. Politically and spiritually unaffiliated, my personal ideologies put me all over the map or off it completely.
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2 Responses to

  1. felixwas says:

    My one-match ambitions are Jack London’s fault.

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