I was reading journals this morning and as I read Judith Heartsong's I was reminded of a frightening yet fascinating subject, fire.
I love building a fire and sitting or standing there feeling the heat from it. The smell of leaves burning brings back pleasant childhood memories of raking leaves and jumping in them. Afterwards we would burn them and poke marshmallows on stick and toast them until they were burnt and gooey. When I smell wood burning, memories are invoked of watching a fire in a fireplace. Even now I can see the smoke as it goes up the chimney, the sparks popping off the logs and the hot embers glowing and sparkling among the ashes. I love the feel and sight of a bonfire, feeling its heat, watching the dance that the flames do as they leap for the sky. I will see a spark fly up in the air. sometimes with my eyes sometimes with my body I follow it to where it goes. How about camp fires with a low flame just right for cooking? The best fish I have ever had was a rainbow trout wrapped in bacon and a slice of lemon stuffed inside cooked over an open flame outside next to a stream in the Rockies. Ah what memories fire brings,
It also brings other memories, dark, frightening ones. Memories I would prefer not to have. Memories of red lights flashing, sweeping in a circle bathing everything in red, the long drawn out sound of the sirens on fire trucks. Memories of seeing Mrs Reeves, our next door neighbor, being handed out a window in the middle of the night as flames shot out of her kitchen window. Her cries when the fireman laid her dog to one side, old PA had crossed the bridge that night. Then there is the memory of seeing my niece standing in a chair next to the stove when I was 10 years old. She had on a cute 2 piece blue bathing suit with little tiny white flowers on it. Over it she was wearing a white lacy cover up that tied at her neck. I hear ( and I still hear it every time Brook wants to help cook) " o my finger". I turn and see her standing in the chair shaking her finger that had touched the burner. Next I see flames racing up her cover up toward the ceiling and her face. I am screaming for help. My sister's boyfriend comes in rolls her up in one of my mother's new rug. I can still smell the burnt hair and skin in my nostrils, I still feel the fear in my stomach. I still see the skin falling off of her and hear her cries of pain. I remember another fire that took the lives of 2 of my friends and almost took the life of me and my family. It was a heater fire in an old trailer that had no smoke detectors. It was summertime and the heater was not on. We were all going fishing in the morning. My then husband and I along with Candy were going to stay the night and take off early. Around 10 that night Candy got sick and we went home. The next morning we got up as Jeff was still going fishing. We arrived to see an ambulance pulling out and the trailor burnt to the ground. Fire destroyed 3 families that night. Both of them were only the only child of their parents, but that was not the only loss. The young woman that died had just found out the day before that she was pregnant. They were so happy, and was planning a trip home to tell their parents the joyful news in person.
How can something so beautiful and warm and uplifting also be so deadly?