Morning Fire

The fog has covered the glen in which I live when I get up at dawn to look into the forest. It is so customary that I am never much surprised how it manages to fill a clear sky so quickly when I am not paying attention. I get my cup of coffee and sit outside by the warming fire that I have been tending in early evenings and early mornings the last month or more. The fire is an easy thing to prepare, fueled by propane and a lighter, and easy to control, with the movement of a knob and a valve. No need to cut, split, stack and move firewood about the place, upsetting sow bugs and spiders, shooting hot sparks into the sky and dry brush close by.

My neighbors burn real wood in their fire place in the evenings. I know the crackle of wood burning is so much more authentic than natural gas or propane, but pure, easy-breathing air is so much more authentic and delightful for the down-wind neighbors like myself. Rather than fuss with the preparation and maintenance of a wooden fire, I arrive quickly to the essential purpose, which is to stay warm and become slightly dazzled by the dancing flame. The fires I conduct are small ceremonies that calm me by enticing me to sit quietly while watching the flames and listening to birds calling to one another in the forest. I keep the flame low and sit close to conserve fuel.

I would rather recall how many wonderful camp fires I have sat beside along the rivers and the beaches in the open spaces of the country, than the hours of TV watching that have consumed way too much of my existence. I have been without TV since last November, when the remodel of my living room began and I had to join the audience of the unplugged. Now that the remodel is completed and the TV once again plugged in, I see so much folly in what I had been accustomed to watching. I am afraid to watch much more of it for fear that my brain may go completely mushy on me. I would perhaps be better off just watching a video of a camp fire burning. For my great grandparents the fire was TV.

The fire I tended this morning before getting up and off to work has given this day a special prelude, a sense of child-like playfulness, an innocent integrity, a freedom from materialistic distractions, a way of looking beyond self and into something pure and loaded with a simple freedom from complication, a temporary preoccupation with nothing but one of the basic elements of the universe. I only turn off the fire and jump into the particulars of this day because the keeping of time tells me that I must do so. Otherwise, I would dwell beside it until the sun came up.

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