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For those of you who were raised in Scouts or who have camped extensively or who live off the grid, my achievements with fire will seem quite elementary – as, indeed, they are. I am, however, elated; I now know how to build and tend a fire. It’s a skill I do not take for granted, though I hope I never have to use it for survival.

This adventure began a few months ago when I mentioned to Daniel that for years I have wanted a fire pit in the backyard. That statement began his research into options and this well-designed drum is the happy result. In these past few weeks we have scavenged our woods for down-wood, up-wood, snags, and other dead trees. We had considered buying a half-cord of wood, but we have discovered abundant fuel for our purpose right here on this land. I’ve brought down my first tree (with a bow saw) and uprooted another (both already dead) and cut measured lengths for the fire. Our little woodpile charms me with its casual stacks of neat logs and unruly twigs. This week I had my first lesson splitting small pieces. And…a small chain saw has been ordered and is on its way! Never fear, I am being well-schooled in safety, which I take very much to heart.

I am also delighted that I now have a productive use for the generosity of our hickory trees. Earlier this fall these glorious trees showered nuts to earth in steady symphonic drumbeats. The hard shells scatter over the yard, a hazard for the mower and making patches where grass will not grow. But they burn hot and sure, generating glowing red coals deep in the heart of the fire.

Gathering hickory nuts in baskets has become a mindfulness task. I wonder at each small shell…that contains a smaller nut…that holds hickory meat. The outer layer opens like a tulip, forming a graceful cup, a chalice that knows – sacred Tree Life is held here. Broken open, the inner nut reveals art forms, some abstract, some recognizable like the perfect heart I found just yesterday. I thank the Hickory Trees and Mother Earth for this abundance and promise to use it well.

My daddy loved a fire and I remember him sitting long hours beside the hearth in our living room watching flames flicker in the quiet of the night. The aliveness of fire mesmerizes me now with the same magical allure that captured his meditative soul.

So, on cool evenings, I join the spirits of those who have done this before. I build a fire from fuel I have gathered and sit, watching stars emerge and moon phases turn, warmed by shimmering flames. Fire.

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