There’s something very therapeutic and reassuring about building a fire. The pops and whines, the smoke and heat. It transports me to a different place and stage of evolution. I feel a unique, primal pride, a sense of strength and accomplishment, when I coax a fire to life.
The tinder must be bone dry. I search for it in the undergrowth: the topmost leaves from last season; dried moss in the bole of a tree; lichen draped low on bare branches. I gather two fistfuls and place them in the middle of the fire ring, then I fluff them slightly to ensure space for enough air.
Next I locate kindling, snapping each twig and branch and listening for the telltale crackle that indicates it is dry enough to catch. I lay the smallest pieces lightly atop the tinder so that it forms a rough cone.
Then I light the match.
I hold it to one or two places on the tinder, blow lightly, and watch to see that the kindling catches. When it does I place larger sticks on the fire until I have a healthy blaze.
I settle back to enjoy my fire once the first log is fully involved and the fire is popping cheerfully, casting it’s heat and it’s light into the cold dark. I breathe deeply and wish for a simpler time.
Then I reach for my iPhone to blog this.