A Rumination on Fire

I have made no secret of being an indoorsman. That is, I have not tried to hide that I would rather be inside on almost any given day; did I have my way I would stay inside the walls, keep within the rooms and halls that through work on which I’ve come to have a claim. Yet it’s also true that I enjoy–and I will not deny I do–setting up a bed of coals or logs from which smoke rolls in a firepit and staring at the flame.

One such culprit; photo mine.

It is a deep-seated thing, to be sure. I am far from the first to find comfort in staring into the flames, seeing them strain against the control under which they are kept, feeling their warmth, breathing in the sweet smoke of wood turning to ash. I do not expect I will be the last; my daughter currently values the fire more for what it can do to marshmallows (she tends to set hers aflame to toast them) than for what it does to other things, but I am working on her with it. She will learn, in time, that the flame itself feels like company, an unruly friend that can easily get out of control but, if guided, does much to make things better.

I wonder if I am like the flame in that. I know that I am not always good about keeping myself in check; when I do not, I say and do things I come to regret later (as opposed to the many things I have not done that I regret not doing). But I also know that, as long as I am amply provided and suitably guided, I get a lot of things done that might be done otherwise, but neither as well nor as swiftly. And I like to think that I am an amiable companion for those who would take the time to tend to me. It is perhaps not to my credit that I need such tending to be amiable, I acknowledge, but I do not think I am alone in needing to get something to be able to give something back.

The oddities of my thoughts are taking me towards four humors theory, which I know is not good in its particulars, even if there are some things that it got right. Not being a Galenic physician–I am the wrong kind of doctor for that–I am not going to delve too deeply into it. Trying to avoid magical thinking, I am not going to go into the other resonances that might emerge and would contradict the idea of my being a fiery type of person. I am also the wrong type of person to go into that kind of work. But that does not mean I cannot go out on an early spring day, stack a bit of firewood, and enjoy setting it alight so that I can watch the flames twist and leap through what once bore boughs.

Help me get some more firewood?

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