The Fox at Dawn

10.12.19 First Fire

You do not know this, Mr. van Tine, but I think of you every time I light October’s first fire. The morning’s temperature has at last fallen enough to warrant the season’s first hearth fire. It is a holy event, a rite really. I build it carefully- newspaper saved from last year, kindling I gathered from the yard throughout the summer, logs that have been waiting in the wood pile a long time for their turn at transformation. I build the layers, the easiest to burn at the bottom, and strike the match. It never ceases to be a wonder, how flame springs into being and takes over paper, pinecone, twig, branch and log. How flame has no mass and yet I can see it. How it releases energy from the sun that trees have converted over decades to trunk and limb and leaf. I stare into the flames and think of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, yes I do, Mr. van Tine.

I remember how my mind was blown in the lessons you taught in 10th grade biology, over forty years ago now Mr. VT, and we are still here! How energy is neither created nor destroyed, how there is a tendency to go from order to disorder, to entropy. This second bit distresses while the first is a comfort. We humans want so much to be assured that something lasts forever, that we, somehow, will last forever. But we have most certainly tipped the balance towards an ever increasing rate of entropy, throwing earth’s whole beautiful system of creation, growth, decay, renewal into jeopardy. The third principle states that systems which use energy best, survive. It is both a personal and a global challenge to keep this in mind. I think of all this Mr. VT, every year I build the first fire. I will not even begin to tell you how often I think of Darwin and the theory of natural selection, how it has driven enormous collaborative art projects and given me much to think about as I follow my solitary paths.

How marvelous is this world! I’m sitting in a rocking chair made of hand bent wood by a Polish Appalachian craftsman, my feet are resting on a wooden stool my uncle, now gone from us, made years ago from a tree on his Indiana farm, warmed by the tree stored energy of the sun in the hand hewn stone fireplace I am so very lucky to live with, and I wonder about love. It too is neither created nor destroyed, or so I believe. It is an energy that can be absorbed, stored and released over and over again. I believe it is possible to live in the uninterrupted flow of love, I have the saint’s ambition to do so. Though I fail again and again, I do keep trying. So say I to the flames this morning.

It is a wonder Mr. van Tine, isn’t it? On mornings like this, I cannot hold the world close enough.

I still have this book, Mr. van Tine, lest you ever despair you were teaching into the wind at that tiny Victorian girls school all those years ago.

2 Comments so far
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I love your thoughts and the way you express them, Loren! Always so full of so much. Thank you.

Comment by Gita

Thank you Gita! I love knowing you’re out there somewhere reading it!

Comment by Loren Crawford

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