I’m sure there are people out there who don’t like watching a campfire, but I don’t think I’ve met any. It can be mesmerizing, staring at the flames as they follow the ever-changing currents of super-heated air, the pulsating glow of the coals underneath, and the sudden shifts of the wood as it is converted into brittle carbon. We love to feed a fire, either tossing small pieces of wood into the coals where they are consumed in a rapid blaze, or adding a log to the top and watching the flames lick at it, tasting out the spots to take hold, heating the sap until it bubbles out and forms an accelerant, and finally caressing the whole log as the ones below fall into the coals.
A healthy fire needs to be open, to allow air to flow through, under, and around, feeding the flames. Properly built, a campfire will burn wet wood through the night even in a light rain. (I witnessed this when I was a Boy Scout.)
I have been purging recently, divesting myself of the accumulated detritus of the past decade or so. I finally got rid of the last of my supplies from the photo gallery I ran from 2010 to 2014. The large format printer is sold, and the frames and matboard given away. I am left with two flat files of prints, the unburnt fuel of a poorly built fire. I have also given away all my canvas and most of my acrylic paints, as I have pretty much consumed all the fuel in that fire. There are some embers left that I may fan at some future point, but the fire will be different. I am clearing out clothing, furniture, tools, and other items which only serve to clog my fire, preventing oxygen flow. As the space in my small home empties out, the flames flicker, following new air currents in different directions, burning new fuels in new colors. The test for me now is to feed this new fire with care, keeping it open and free to explore, yet strong enough to survive the inevitable rain.