Kindling To Burn

Last night we gathered around the fire pit in Cassie’s backyard. I was lazy with summer heat, and sat, kicking my legs, on a plastic chair, while she and Ryan went into the back woods to look for logs, sticks, bamboo: kindling.

When they finally arrived, their arms were full with bounty. I had managed to pool together a small pile of leaves in my laze, and we began to stack the fuel in and around the pit. After days of rain the copper-wrought pit had been full of a thick, syrupy amalgam of mud and old ashes. Ryan had hosed out the grime, and Cassie had wiped the remaining chunks away with an old blue and orange beach towel. I sat and thought about how lovely a toasted marshmallow would taste in my mouth.

Later, as we sat around the roaring flame, I wished I hadn’t been so lazy. I wish that my hands had wrought the flame that licked and curled around my marshmallow, turning it black and coarse. I grabbed the box of matches–253 of them, all sitting and waiting to  strike –and lit one, throwing it nervously into the flames. I lit one, and then another, and the leaves caught fire and glowed with warmth.

There, I though. I contributed. I started the fire. I struck the match that lit a thousand leaves.

But there cannot be a fire without fuel.

Perhaps that is my greatest downfall: I expect to be able to just strike a match and the fire will come, without taking the time to build the up my reservoir of fuel.


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