In my California mornings, I reinvigorate the fire.
In early light, the sun not yet crested above the surrounding hills, I bundle in layers and follow my breath to the fire pit. The coals from last night’s big Oak round have burned down to a few pulsing cinders.
With cold hands, I gather the small sticks, a toss of Oak leaves, and begin to fan the flames. Sometimes Jeb is with me and we can huddle around the smokey pile, feeding and blowing in delicate attention. Other times he’ll wander off to stand among the dogs that wrestle on the frosted grass, leaving me to stoke alone.
I can pull my hair back with one hand and bend in close to breathe long and full into the orangey-red embers. I’ve been building fires most of my life and there is always a satisfaction felt when my own exhalation makes flame. My breath to fire, wood crackling to catch, a small blaze building.
This warmth gathers us. Family members from three to sixty-three, wander out in the morning with steaming mugs in their hands, big coats and sleepy eyes. The fire wakes us. Even once the sun has cast slants upon the melting lawn, the fire will still hold a steady flame. Spirals of smoke will dance in light throughout the day.
We realized last night that the fire has been burning without pause for three days. A heartbeat pumping, our family’s outdoor hearth is only an ‘h’ away from the love-life source that keeps us living.
We laugh at how I’ve taken to keep it burning in the morning. I love the unending cycle of stoking coals to flame.
“Well, whaddya think? Let’s keep it burning til 2012!” we say as we sit and warm our hands.
We smile in the cold as the knees on our jeans get toasted. My father’s quiet tone
drifts in the swirling smoke, our eyes fixated on the flames.
“…there’s something about a fire…”