Ode to Fires

Fires provide heat and light. They are hypnotizing, our best weapon, and sometimes our great peril. Fires can be made at home or camping. They can be big or small, hot or cold. I live in a house where the wood stove, and therefore fire, is the only way to keep the house consistently warm. This means that I have had a lot of practice making fires and am quite good at it. The wood stove both keeps me comfortable and makes sure that the pipes do not freeze so that I can have water through the winter. A fire is simply one of the best and few things to curl up next to. The warm, orange-red light from the fire is symbolic of comfort in my mind, and the crackling of water pockets exploding in the wood is a comfort to the ears. That crackling is the best way to know that the fire you made was a success. The smoke from a fire can be fragrant or pungent based on the wood you are burning, and it is a guilty pleasure when there are controlled burns. Outside the home, fires give a little more light at night and are a natural gathering place when camping. They can be the center of stories, the source of food and nourishment, a ward against the harsh elements. Forest fires balance and renew ecosystems. It is probably from this renewal that the idea of the phoenix, which I have recently discovered is also a core part of me, is born. Fire can take away the detritus that will not give up the earth and turn it to energy. A neat, magical aspect to fire chemistry is that combustion produces both CO2 and H2O. I find the water neat because it is usually thought of as the antithesis of fire, but it is produced by fire as well. Fire is one of the four western elements and five eastern. It is the only one that retains a mystical, magical nature to me because it is the one that cannot be physically quantified. A fire is neither the infra-red energy nor visual energy that it releases. It can be felt, but fundamentally does not have physical particles (excepting perhaps photons, but again it is not just electromagnetic radiation). It can be influenced, and influences other things, but seems to remain bodiless.