By the fire

“Look what I have created. I have made fire. I have made fire!” —Chuck Noland in the movie Castaway.

campfire by a lake

I live in Tucson, Arizona. If you know anything about the desert southwest, you know that it gets hotter than a July 4th firecracker in the summer. But our winters are mild. It’s rare for the winter lows to stay below freezing for very long, and rarer still for us to get any snowfall. Still, it gets cold. Coldish. The dry air and clear skies allow the heat of the day to escape rapidly once the sun goes down. Nights can be frigid.

We’re now the owners of a wood-burning stove. It’s a beautiful, little maroon model from Vermont Castings that we bought used from a guy in Williams. And let me tell you, we’re using it.

We have plenty of trees on the property to supply us with wood, so I’ve been thinning out the grounds with my chainsaw and splitting up a storm with my axe. I’m a regular Paul Bunyan.

We’ve turned off the gas furnace and have taken to burning logs to take the chill off the evening. Our family room has become downright toasty. It’s probably a symptom of my advanced years, but I enjoy feeling warm in the winter.

Fire is an amazing thing. It makes food more tasty and healthy, it creates heat, it renews the land when it’s become overgrown. It’s mesmerizing to watch, and enjoying the colors and the movement of the flames, the orange glow of burning coals is one of the joys of a fireplace or wood stove. It’s beautiful but ephemeral. A single flame consumes some flammable gases and disappears.

Sounds like a metaphor for life, doesn’t it? We burn bright and hot, we consume the life force within us, our flame is extinguished.

That’s probably too deep for this cold, winter afternoon. I just threw another log in the stove. I can feel my toes warming up. I have created fire.

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