Staring at a fire can be almost hypnotic

I burned a pile of brush the other night. We have burning restrictions here in Nova Scotia due to the lack of rain, so burning is limited to between the hours of 7 p.m. and 8 a.m., when the dew has settled.
I often wonder how forest fires are ignited so easily, it seems, when I struggle to get a pile of dry forsythia branches and old fence boards to burn but I finally had success after three previous attempts resulted in a petered-out fire.
I stood in the smoke from the blaze to keep the mosquitoes from annoying me and watched the flames flicker and fuel into flight. The crackling sounds echoed about, bouncing between forest and barn, making the fire seem like it had ventriloquist skills.
It zinged and snapped and squeaked with a music all its own.
I always fear burning down the neighbourhood when I burn brush but my fire pit stands a long way from any structures or forest, and I only burn on windless nights–a pail and hose at the ready.
But still. It would be embarrassing, to say the least, to see a fleet of fire trucks rush on to my property.
I remember a fire tuck rushing to the scene when I got knocked out cold by a kick to my face from a horse many years ago. I regained consciousness and stared at the fire truck and firemen rushing about and I thought, “Am I on fire?”
I wasn’t but I still laugh when I think of that first thought. And why firefighters? I was bleeding profusely from a head wound and I wondered if they were going to turn the hose on me to clean out the wound, but that seemed a bit extreme.
Yup, still makes me laugh. I looked like I had gone 10 rounds with Mohammed Ali and didn’t hold my own, but it healed up and the scar is barely visible now.
Firefighters indeed.
I think most of us love to stare into a fire. Many cultures think of fire as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge; it is our inner light that burns in every soul. Perhaps that is why it is so comforting to sit and watch a fire, almost hypnotic as we feel its warmth and are in awe of its power.
A fire seems to be alive, its flame a living breathing entity–the colours changing and its movement continuous.
I pulled up a chair and watched my fire burn and the time slipped by while I stared, entranced, my mind suspended in a place without worries or problems, hovering just above my life.
We know that fire can be destructive, as evidenced by the massive loss of timber in British Columbia this summer, the third summer in a row where the power of fire has been so harmful, the air saturated with smoke, blocking out the sun for days and days on end.
Of course, Northwestern Ontario is no stranger to the devastation of forest fires, either. We know fire’s power can get away from us, but in a campfire or my small brush fire, it is something to be admired–a perfect end to a day.
wendistewart@live.ca

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