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Autumn Fires

Posted by: thornwoodstudio

Tagged in: Stories , Fires , Autumn


I sat with the fire this evening until it died, I felt like I owed the blaze that much at least, especially as I had called it to perform. Each fire is special, just as people are; they have a character of their own and eachs burn very differently.

Tonight the fire in question is the one I made just before sundown. It was composed of all the summers’ flotsam and jetsam  from the garden and various successful and unsuccessful projects. Never the less all the materials were combustible and ready to await their turn in what I call my autumn fires. These fires are a convenient way of disposing of the year’s contribution to the combustible waste which has been consigned to the disposal pile. In keeping with my strictest green agenda I assembled all the various candidates in a final line-up and put the match to the kindling. One by one I offer the flames the sacrificial martyrs and sit back to enjoy this years autumn blaze.

In Africa it is said that within each fire, be it cooking or recreational, a story is born. There is something very magical about staring into the heart of the fire and the heat of the coals. Somehow the dancing flames help to interpret ones thoughts and if spoken out immediately, a new story unfolds. Tonight is no different and although my location is urban, my thoughts are rural. Fortunately there is a light wind tonight and the passing of the breeze through the branches of the trees on my property masks the sound of traffic, barking dogs and car alarms. Tonight I could be on an African farm listening to the call of the Night Jar and the merry chirp of  crickets as they announce the arrival of the night.

As I said, fires are special things and tonight, as I watch the flames lick the wood, twigs and logs, I am reminded of the history of each component on the pyre. There is the branch from the tree which my little girls swing hung from, the legs from the pine frame beds which my wife and I had purchased almost twenty-four years ago, beds which provided comfort and rest for family, friends and strangers, such an important part of the hospitality in our home. Theres rose cuttings from this seasons amazing growth and part of the boundary fence which blew down last winter in a storm.

The last volunteer to embrace the flames was the most recent branch from the Lilac tree. This is the old friend who, apart from presenting an obstacle during the mowing of the lawn,  provided wonderful shade during many previous summers for the various birthdays, anniversaries and seasonal parties we have hosted in the back yard of our home. This year however it succumbed to a terminal disease and I could not save it.. As I throw this branch on the hot fire I have a premonition, its of a fire still to come where its remaining comrades will form the majority of the fuel and most of the kindling.

Nope, there is no life support left for this fire, no more fuel and no reprieve, no more contributors to the final performance only the fading glimmer of coals drawing their last deep breaths from the cool night air.  I will wait for the last breath and the glow of life  to fade from its orange eyes before I pronounce the last rights; then I’ll head inside to where there is the buzz of family voices and the warmth of new reports from today’s adventures. I will quietly slip inside and join those who were not witness to the stories which were told by tonight’s autumn fire.




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