It’s prehistoric. Dangerous. But calming and comforting. Some have an affinity for it, others find it a novelty. To me a fire gives me a sense of control, a responsibility, that I’m caring for this deadly but beautiful element.
When bringing fire into our home we must show respect. Showing regard for this wonder, that we often take for granted, will not only keep us and our property safe, but it will humble us. Showing us how vulnerable we really are.
Recently the fireplace in my 1925 urban homestead has gone under repair. There was a crack in the flue and the fireplace lay in wait for years, until there was a decision to fix the damage. Eventually, a repairman came by and, for a very afordable rate, was able to patch the crack with a mortar like compound.
Since then, not only am I ecstatic that I now have my first ever fireplace, but it’s also exciting that I have given value to my home for such a low price.
Seeking out firewood on Craigslist, I came across a listing for ash wood. Fair price I thought for my first cord of hardwood. Meeting up with the gentleman selling the wood, a couple of towns east of my homestead, he gave me some valuable information about ash wood.
Such as it can be burned green. Meaning that it has a lower water content and doesn’t have to season as long as other firewood. At first I was sceptical but, with some researching, it’s true.
Stacking a cord of wood outside my backdoor, I couldn’t wait to sit and get lost by the fire. After chopping kindling, and halving a few pieces with an axe, I was ready.
Starting my first fire inside, I could not help feeling essentially off with this notion. Inside fire? These two words shouldn’t be together. But I thought about it, native Americans were burning inside their dwellings, the settlers of long ago had fires in their homes. And many people just like me have fireplaces to burn in today.
With the kindling eventually catching fire and blackening, slow burning. Gently I blew my breath over it, the flames rising lightly. The ocher flame whisping and crackling. I lay a larger piece of ash over the flame, minutes later it catches. The gray smoke contorting in its twists above the small fire.
Each piece of fuel I add, it’s like I’m nourishing something destructive and fearless. But I instinctually I feel protected. I am no longer affraid of the primordial darkness. I feel warm and safe. It is I who controls fire, I am master. But am I?
Deciding I’ll relax in my chair several feet back from the fire, I watch it burn. The ash wood crackling and popping as the orange and blue flames systematically change the fuel into smoke and dust.
Who is in control of this fire I wonder to myself, I merely give it a resting place and and feed it. But it’s most certainly alive, and takes no account of it’s action. The fire has one idea – consuming. It will destroy its home, its food and those whom take care of it.
So how can I let a fire burn in my home? Because I have found a natural balance. The balance of respect to the rising, glowing flames and also to myself. Because fire has no regard for us I must give it mine, taking care of it so I can protect myself.
Don’t let the fire get too great. Or let it burn alone. Be sure the smoke is venting. Simple and respectful thought you must give to the fire. For as well as it appears to treat us it is not our friend.
What kind of respect do you give your fires?