As we have been impatient for a good spring, the Photographer and I decided to go camping, if only briefly, in the 24 hour window between thunderstorms that have been sweeping across the area where we live. As so often happens when things are done at the right time, the pieces all fell into place. We worried there might be no dry wood to burn; his neighbor had just cut up some dead limbs and offered us some. We thought the good sites might all be claimed by the time we arrived on such a nice day. A choice site had been vacated early, a beautiful, quiet spot near the water.
While the day proved lovely, the evening was a little cold, and we spent most of our time tending the fire and huddling beside it. I listened to the lap of the water in the background, and a part of me longed just to sit in the dark and watch the distant lights reflected in the lake. But once I gave up on that and accepted what was, I found myself staring into the fire instead.
And then the Photographer, a former volunteer firefighter, began to tell me what he knew about fire. We watched a stick burst into flames in many places at once, and he explained that each material has a flash point, a temperature at which it ignites instantly, without even coming into contact with the fire. He showed me how the material itself doesn’t burn, it’s the gas around the material; the fire doesn’t actually touch the wood.
I thought out loud about how, if we look at anything closely enough, it becomes fascinating. And it’s a short step from fascination with fire to fascination with the world, to falling in love with the world, to knowing that the universe is amazing, and the force that creates it, moment to moment, a deeper and more profound thing than we can ever know.
I asked if I was talking nonsense. The Photographer just smiled and stoked the fire. “Maybe a little bit,” he said, “but I like it.” So we sat there for the rest of the evening, bridging sacred and mundane, being fascinated with fire.