Playing with Fire: Communal flames drive away winters’chills

By Donnie Simmet 2008

It seems to be that we have reached the final and roughest stage of winter. Spirits are almost as low as the temperatures.

If you look close enough, people actually appear to be trembling with anticipation for warmer temperatures. The word summer is so beautiful it nearly brings tears to ones eyes. All day, the only place I want to be is back under the heavy, warm covers of my bed.

Yes, the winter blues have clearly spread like the common cold, and in an effort to alleviate them I have decided to use this space to expound upon the wonder of fires. When I say fires, I am referring to the contained variety such as campfires, recreational fires, or bonfires.

Sure, fires are useful. They provide heat and a way to cook food. Big deal. I wish to delve a bit deeper than the immensely valuable utilitarian facets of fire. There is some sort of force, which radiates from a good fire. It draws people in and holds them there like glue. I have gone to large and small fires in fields, forests, backyards, etc. and I have always been impressed at the way they bring eclectic groups of people together.

Some might argue that this force is evolutionary in that it provides survival assistance, others might say it is spiritual in that it offers a mystical glimpse into the oneness of all. Maybe you could go as far to say that this serves to remind us that we are all equal beings with the same basic needs. Perhaps people are drawn to fires simply because of their great beauty and perceptual pleasure.

I often find myself staring into the rich hues of the flames for long periods of time. Only those truly committed get to experience the final stage and most beautiful part of a fire, the intensely hot, glowing embers. The subtle crackles and soothing roar lend to the ears. Depending on what kind of wood is being burnt, there is a potential olfactory feast.

Fires make excellent social arenas. Talking and storytelling are much more satisfying around a fire.

When the weather becomes suitable I hope that all will transfer from the synthetic, blue glow of the television to the thick, natural, orange glow of fire. It is quite easy to have a fire.

Once a location is chosen, one must only bear in mind what amounts to a sort of fire trinity. Fuel is usually acquired in the form of wood. Trees are made of wood, so I would suggest searching near them. It is good to start the fire small with kindling (twigs, wood shavings, dried weeds, etc.) and work up from there. Heat can be found in the form of matches or a lighter and once the fire gets going it will supply itself.

Oxygen is probably the trickiest of the three ingredients, but I have faith that when the time is right you will know where to look.

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