The Day After Thanksgiving

Buried somewhere in one of my early unpublished memoirs is mention of the three cords of oak we burned the first winter we were in Oregon, and how tending the fire and watching the flames was the perfect medicine for our bodies and minds as we adjusted to our new home. Other than a few brief lapses, we kept the fire going late into the night, and then fed the coals again early each morning. It was wasteful, to be sure, but primitive and inspiring.

By fire�s ancient
eternal nature,
we were cleansed.

Outside, it rained. Wind scoured the eaves. Firs howled, hillsides moaned, pavement cracked beneath the ice. Inside, we were safe and warm, and addicted to an ever-present trace of smoke that rejuvenated our spirits and scented our furniture, hair, and clothes.

As the wood burned,
it released the years
of sunlight it contained.

All things returned,
all remained the same.

Since that winter, nineteen years have passed. We have had other fires, and each brought with it its own meaning, pleasure, and surprise.

Fire reminds.

Late last night, as I sat with my mother and watched her doze, the image of fire was awakened in my mind. Another winter has begun, but it will not be a winter of oak and flame. Instead, we will rely on her faceless gas furnace, the vents in her floor, the thermostat on her wall. We will be blessed with warmth, but not to the bone.

November 24, 2006

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