I turn off the TV after the 7 o’clock news. The thought of watching another twee English ‘who dunnit’ with a meddling vicar is exasperating. Instead, I brave the lashing rain and Antarctic winds to get wood from the backyard. I peel back the tarp to find a dry stack and begin to load up my left arm with four or five logs, nowhere near enough to last the night. I repeat the process, cursing under my breath as l lose my footing and slip forward onto my knees. I drop the bundle and have to start all over. My right knee smarts and my jeans are now wet.

Tonight, I couldn’t be bothered with the careful assembly of paper and twigs to make sure the fire starts. Outside, it is six degrees, and I am cold. Impatiently, I shove pieces of cardboard into the fireplace, break up a cube of Samba firelighters and build a tepee of kindling around it. Thankfully, the fire catches and I slowly add larger pieces of wood.

I stare into the fire for a long time, watching the flames engulf the wood. The strong winds must be helping to draw the fire up. I watch mesmerised as the flames lick the back and then the sides of the log. The underside is glowing a crazed orange with hairline cracks developing in the structure of the wood. I can’t stop watching this dance of the flames and soon I notice that I am no longer cold.

The dog stretches out in front of the fire box and falls asleep. Her fur becomes hot to touch but she remains there, contented. I keep watching, unable to take my eyes off the log as it turns from brown to yellow to orange with tinges of blue. The fire now consumes everything I care to feed it. It has turned into a crackling, hungry beast.

In Greek mythology, Prometheus, against Zeus’ wishes, took fire from the gods to give to his beloved mortal beings. This knowledge gave humans not only the means of survival, but it was the cornerstone that enabled civilisation, culture, and the arts to flourish. Zeus’ punishment was to nail Prometheus to a mountain and send an eagle to devour his liver. As Prometheus remains immortal, his liver regenerates, and the eagle feeds evermore.

I am grateful for the warmth still left in the glowing embers. But I do think about poor Prometheus. Looking at tonight’s culmination of culture on TV, I wonder whether he has since regretted giving humanity the gift of fire. I’m not sure I would have bothered.

9 thoughts on “Fire”

    1. Ha! Winter has never left. I am still lighting fires and it is colder here than in parts of Europe at present. Wet and miserable! Still better than a drought.


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