Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see
Once chants out between two worlds:
Fire, walk with me. – The One Armed Man
It is fitting that with the trees exploding into colour that I turn my attention to fire. It was a fire-full season now just past, with 7,022,570 acres burned (2841933ha) right down to the… uh, ground. That’s 8,261 New York City Central Parks. That’s 255 Disney Worlds (not including Epcot Center) burned down, Mickey and Minnie included. A fire like that would have eaten up 9 State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations as well as spilled millions of gallons of ink in forcing News Papers print news including the name Rhode Island and Providence Plantations….. A fire as we saw, just this year would have burned its way through 78 Detroits, which considering that 29,520 acres are already burned out or abandoned, would have meant that it would have burned down 137 still inhabited or yet to be torched Detroits which is a lot of Heavy D’s to burn through.
Fire, right after blow jobs, is perhaps one of Man’s oldest inventions. Or at least we are told, or I was told by so many old history books from the 1950s I came across as a child that had pictures of cave men with torches who were a) keeping wild animals away from their women b) using fire to scare pray and hunt – their women taking on the small animals like birds as the Men fought Mastodons and Saber Toothed somethingorothers c) painting cave walls while the women were no where to be seen (turns out the very first Man Caves were actually caves). Fire is seen by so many in the popular mind as that start, that defining technology that allowed us to rise above our ape neighbors, and to take our place as masters of the earth. No matter what came in front of us, we could use fire to solve the problem. Cold fucking Ice Age. No problem. Fire. Animals at night? Fire. Meat tastes like ass and we spend hours chewing the crap? Ah, monsieur, pleze, right zis way, place your torn off elk head on the fire….. Need to plant crops in this jungle? Light a fire. Too many weeds? Fire. Woman of our dreams is held within another city? Fire… and 1000 ships. We need to kill a lot of us? Fire. Kill a lot of us at a distance? Fire (placed in a tube of some kind). Level an entire city in a moment? Fire. The world of today is still powered not by some smart bodi babies, but by fire. Three Mile Island, Indian Point, and Chernobyl nothing but fire, in a way.
I’m known as the dude who is always burning some shit. I wonder what my carbon footprint is now, or will accumulate to be before I croak. …. My life with fire started young. My mother bought a stove, a Franklyn Stove. We heated the house with it from time to time, but for the most part it was a special hazard (I can’t believe I survived childhood, but that’s material for another blog) we used on holidays. When we moved to the country, then the real fires happened. We burned our trash. We had a few camp fires. We burned brush. Most of all we burned old furniture. One time, as my mother was away on some trip of some sort, the teenage me turned out a huge pile of crap furnishings into a heap, lit a match, and learned that most of our articles we keep about us are so covered and saturated in so many petro chemical coatings as to turn what I expected would be a happy bonfire into a rocketesque inferno – a Dresden in our backyard, if you will. Strange, the fire department was just down the lane, but thankfully, they did not come, and I survived another day.
During my teen years I did not do as many camp fires as one would think. A complex set of issues got in the way. We also did not use the Franklyn Stove for a long time, but somewhere in my mid-teens or later we dropped a tin smoke stack down the brick chimney and were able to have a few limited and mostly decorative fires. Except for that one winter we had no money for heat…. Yeah, that…. We heated a single room of the house with whatever trees we could drag home or other wood found here and there. When I was finally able to move out and attend college, I took with me the gift of fire. Our dorms still had working fire places. It was right on the cusp of our That’s Too Dangerous For You society. It was a joy to gather about the fire place, usually lit only for special events. Except for this one time a friend and I re arranged the logs to stoke the fire, not suspecting that some idiot had installed the smoke detector directly above…. We, I am not proud to say, did not stand our ground, neither having the money we were sure the fire company or our college would charge us for such a mistake….
My early years in the city were all about avoiding fires. The loft I lived in was all wood, a welding shop below, just to spice things up. I had several huge extinguishers, knowing well that the majority of all those room mates who pumped in and out of that place had experience with fire only per bong or lighter and could not so much as handle a candle without burning a few drapes. True to form, one of our more drunken roomies set their dinner on fire in the oven, having passed out at the table with a magnum of wine…. I didn’t know a roast chicken could glow like that…. I spent the incoming 2000s camped on top of a mountain at the ruins of an ancient hotel in sub zero weather with my yet to be soon to be former wife. The flames lit up the stone and cement structure, and creepy little alters scattered about devoted to Bob Dilan, or Buddha, or Ganga or Holy Whatever. I burned entire trees, they melt away so fast, I could not think what an entire winter supply would use up. That New Years, the Y2K did not pan out in anything other than another scam of a scam economy we were and still are building, but that fire was one of the best of my life… Not sure what the fallen trees thought.
Then, suddenly, fire lit up lower Manhattan. The pile smoked for months.
Then, pictures of fires, first in Afghanistan, then The Iraq flooded our TeeVees. The pile still smoked, I moved a few more times, life changed as it did, but I still built fires. I spent some time camping here and there for many of those years. Fire was something that lit the little stone hut I lived in for a while. These were wonderful and strange times. The crackling fire, the stone walls, the deep sounds of the dark forest. I thought of those garish images from so many history books, not relegated to forbidden politically incorrect Banned Book of the Month Club lists…. So much of my life has some story of fire if candle or flame are all considered one, since from inferno of discarded building materials to Apple Spice and Mountain Berry scented Glade to the jets of flame that the mortician used to consume my dear grandmother, all start with a small spark.
Fire has come across our land this year. Perhaps again next year we will top our acres, perhaps we have burned all the wilderness already, perhaps our cities will self immolate in some revolution or we will give proxy to our angst and watch as other great cities burn. We are Fraking, drilling, and warring all to ensure that our first gift… the one after blow jobs…. is not extinguished least the dark, cold, animal infested night returns us on par with the rest of the animals…. who I am sure, will remember the past several thousand years of our fire filled ways, may just not welcome us back to the jungle with anything other than open mouths, claws, and talons.
When this kind of fire starts, it is very hard to put out. The tender boughs of innocence burn first, and the wind rises, and then all goodness is in jeopardy. – The Log Lady