Monday, 12 September 2011

Elemental tales- Fire

Everyone watches as that first tiny spark, dancing so lightly, catches the whisper soft tinder of thistle seed, and slowly, carefully, is breathed into life.

'Ahh! everyone sighs and the smouldering tinder is pushed gently under the little wigwam of tiny dried stems and twigs. Soon porridge is bubbling and we scramble for bowls...
Fire comes slowly when you don't have matches or firelighters. It teaches patience and the meticulous search for dry tinder. In that time your nose anticipates the smell of the cooking porridge before it is even in the pan. When the first spark actually leaps into flame it is a wondrous moment. It seems like a miracle to create fire from the friction between two pieces of wood, and we gather around the dancing flames, transfixed. 
We are lost in a moment that cradles us back to the lives of our distant ancestors, and we feel the fire in the very depths of us. And we feel great gratitude.

I feel very blessed for my children to experience this connection with fire. They follow the journey from the search for dry tinder, through to eating the food which has cooked over wood that they have collected. It is very real and tangible. Firemaking is a skill which they are learning which will empower them and bring the deep sense of satisfaction and belonging that no amount of switch flicking will do.
They are aware too of the awesome power of fire, and have a healthy respect for its wild strength.
guess who is always the first to the fire?

I would love to say that we live like this all the time, but alas! we have a gas oven for cooking and a woodburner (with matches) for warmth. But do I feel reverence and awe when I light the gas in the morning? No! Do I thank the cooker? No. I rush and scurry and drop matches, and hussle the children to get their clothes on!

But we have been connecting with fire more this summer, mostly thanks to Hugh who is just coming to the end of a year long course in bushcraft and nature awareness with Trackways and  has been sharing his fire making skills with us all. And it's been such a gift for the whole family. I have had to frequently quell my quick impatient nature which always wants to get the newspaper and matches out. My fiery nature hasn't got time for fiddling with bow drills and fire babies!

In our yurt 2008
Fire is like a magnet, it draws us together, creates a centre, a temporary home, a warmth that heals and soothes the most fraught of days.
Last weekend we thought about going out for the day, then realised that it was just restlessness and fear of boredom that was leading the decision. We lit a fire in the clearing, and within minutes everyone was gathered; carving, talking, sewing, cooking, dreaming. There was no need to go anywhere but home.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post. Fire itself is home at its most basic for humans, I think. We've evolved with fire and because of fire and are drawn to it on a fundamental level. I think TV has replaced the fire for most and the flickering light of the many screens in our life have a tendency to draw us in because they are something of a fire substitute. Anyone whose spent much time camping, especially on long hiking or canoe trips where you have to set up a new camp each night, knows that once the fire is lit you are home.

    So awesome that Hugh has taken the Bushcraft course. I'm a huge Ray Mears fan myself and have often been out on the shores of lake on a rainy evening struggling with a fire thinking, "Where's Ray when we need him?"


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