Friday, December 22, 2006

The Art and Craft of Fire

During the recent 48 hour power outage I took the opportunity to slow down. Sure there was much to do to keep enough light in the house for reading and navigation and to keep the house warm and to set up the camping stove so we could continue with creature comforts such as warm meals and coffee and tea.

However without electricity one really must slow down. You don’t do a load of laundry. You don’t pop things into the microwave. You don’t check email. You do conserve your energy. You are mindful of your batteries, and your propane and lamp oil supply. You listen to the radio intently. Basically you wake up and consider all that you take for granted.

Spending many hours in front of the fire place, I was able to contemplate the hot coals and realize that real fire is no longer used for much these days. We now heat things with all sorts of electrical power, and the only time one normally sees fire it comes from a gas fuel source.

It seems that few people deal with fire any more, and I think back to the little blacksmith work I did years ago. I think back to feeding a wood fire pottery kiln. I think back to cooking on a wood stove and heating a house with wood as its only heating source. I think about cooking on a camp fire.

Maybe we as humans are evolving away from open flames. They are dangerous and high maintenance, but it has only been in the last 40 years that we have eliminated most of the need for imprecise fire. Perhaps in 40 more years it will only be a true craftsman who will know what to do with it.


Anonymous gearhead said...

At my sons 3rd grade school conference many years ago, the teacher slides a paper towards me, and looking very somber said, "I want you to read somthing that Sparkplug wrote."
It was a list of houshold chores.
"1) I take out the garbage.
2) I feed the dog
3) I light the fire
She stopped me right there.
"Do you see anything wrong there, Mr. Gearhead?" she pressed?
"What?" I asked
" What does Sparkplug mean when he says that he lights the fire? I found that disturbing" she blathered.
"Oh, he means that he takes a book of matches and some newspaper and kindling and fires up the wood stove or the burn barrel when ever he gets the chance. He's really good at it. LOVES burning stuff!!"
Stiffly, in disbelief, with her nose all up in a twist, she slowly slid the paper back in to the pile and muttered,"I see".
Within a month of that incident, there was an article on the front page of the Fishwrapper about a mother that found her kid playing with matches in the garage who called the police and placed the kid in a "fire starters" program.
Yes Guy; we are slowly training the reality & humanness out of our kids and society.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Boo7 said...

There is simply nothing as warm, comforting and soul regenerating for me than sitting by an open fire, staring into the flame and poking at the fire with a stick.....**sigh**....might have to go have one in the backyard right now....oh 'cept it's cold and raining here!!

3:08 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Gearhead, good thing he didn't say that he went home amd sharpened knives and cleaned guns.

Boo, we have a fire-pit outdoors as well. We would use it more often, but we get fire restrictions out here usually from July - September.

6:11 AM  

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