Posts Tagged ‘fire’

One Beautiful Night    (No Comments »)

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

By Anonymous Age 14

At a birthday party that I went to, we played glo-in-the-dark hide and seek. It was so much fun, just to sit and watch the stars while waiting for a noise. Later that night, we made an out door fire  and roasted marshmellows to make smores. It was a beautiful and quiet night, empty dark skies, perfect weather to watch the stars. This is something that I will never forget.

Stove Toasted    (1 Comment »)

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

This afternoon my mom and I were making sandwiches.  Although we have a toaster oven, bread that’s toasted over a fire is always so much more delectable.  So instead of using the toaster, and instead of building a fire on our suburban lawn, we toasted buns over the gas stove in our kitchen

I thought to myself that this use of the stove, or means of toasting bread, seems so much more controlled than baking bread, or warming it, over an open outdoor flame.  Yet it’s still so much more ideal than using a toaster oven because I’m part of the cooking process, not the passive recipient of a piece of crisp bread that pops out of an electronic device onto my plate.  Also, it’s fun.  People don’t usually use gas stoves as literal fires– they take for granted that stoves are in houses to heat food that was foraged for in a grocery store.

This experience was meaningful for me because it got me thinking about the ways that domestic life has affected human survival.  We not have stable shelters, refrigeration and storage of edibles, and clean water pouring freely from a tap.  What do we need out instincts for? We need reflexes, still.  You get too close to that flame and your hand will pull away before you’ve thought about it.  But how do our basic survival instincts serve us, and will we lose the need for them through this modern way of life? If so, is that bad, or is it just different?

Making a Fire    (3 Comments »)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I have spent many nights sitting near a fire that I have made, feeling the warmth and safety of it.  I think the ability to make a fire is an important one that we do not want to lose. So, I’ve also taught students in camp programs how to make fires. Here is the basic lesson: To make a fire you need to understand the life of the thing. The basic physical requirements are fuel, heat, and air. You might also add structure as a basic requirement because without the appropriate structure, a young fire can have difficulty thriving. Fuel is anything that burns, like wood. It is important to respect the trees and plants that can provide fuel for a fire. Things that are still alive and green won’t burn very well anyway. Hemlock is nice as tinder because the branches at the bottom of the tree die as the tree grows up.  They are protected by the upper branches, and they have very fine twigs that heat up quickly and burn even when it is damp outside. Once you have the right wood you can create the appropriate structure which depends on the conditions in the environment.  If it is very wet out, you need to plan carefully. Heat comes in the form of matches, lighters, even rubbing sticks together if you know how to do that, which is another important skill unto itself.  Only light the fire when you know you have enough dry wood. Once the wood ignites, add the appropriate wood and manipulate the flow of air to help the fire catch and burn. Be patient. Fires start like little babies, and if you try to throw on a steak sized log, the fire will choke. In its most basic form, fire-making is a careful process that requires a deep sense of understanding for the fires needs. For example, when do I need to blow on the fire gently, or forcefully, or when is it best not to blow on the fire at all, but instead to add fuel, or to simply wait for the fuel to burn hotter? There are many subtleties involved in the process.  It can be frustrating at times when the fire will not start and you are cold and tired.  But it is also very satisfying to finally smell the wood smoke, and see the burning embers at the heart of a fire with tall flickering flames, and to feel the heat on your cheeks and hands and hear a crackling pop every now and again as a damp piece of wood burns dry.