Fire!

Fire has so many connotations.  It can be the source of warmth, a way to cook food, a lovely candle flame, a cozy crackling campfire to create camaraderie, or even the way to clear a field.  The flip side is fire as the destroyer of homes, a way to scar the skin, how to burn a favorite pot, or a force that easily gets out of hand.

But whether it’s left its mark in a scar, in the glory of crepes suzette, or a belly full of barbeque, fire evokes memories in all of us.   Yours?

19 responses to “Fire!

  1. Writing is the one thing I do where I’m completely disconnected from the world around me. I love to take my laptop to my favorite comfy chair in the cozy corner between two windows where the afternoon sun warms me and turns the log walls of my room a deep, rich gold. The story I’d been struggling with for days was finally moving along. I was in my zone…except for this really annoying beeping sound that occasionally pushed through the forest of amazing ideas popping up in the previously barren fields of my brain. I couldn’t type fast enough. Things were really coming together. I was amazed at my sudden fantastic progress, but as I paused between paragraphs, a teeny, tiny part of my brain tried to place where I’d heard that sound before. I felt like I was juggling oranges while simultaneously trying to read Tolstoy. Though my windows were open, the irksome little sound definitely came from somewhere inside the house. Another great idea pushed it back into the closet of my brain reserved for dumb things I don’t want to deal with right now.

    But then along with the beeping, THE SMELL entered my sanctuary. You know that smell. Anyone who has ever made daily meals knows it because somewhere in our shared cooking history, we’ve all done this. I don’t care who you are or whether you graduated from the School of Mom or the Cordon Bleu; you’ve BURNED DINNER at least once.

    My laptop instantly levitated and landed somewhere…thankfully somewhere safe. I sprinted to the kitchen at the opposite end of the house arriving in time to see the rivets that previously attached the handle to my very favorite pot dribble down the side of the vessel, into the flames below. I choked back the impulse to grab the pot, instead turning off the flame and quelling that viciously annoying beeping in what felt like one motion. I then turned to see my very astonished husband arriving for what he’d hoped would be a delicious meal.

    “What happened?” he said.

    “Writing,” I said weakly, smiling my most pitiful smile.

    Thank God the windows were open.

    The unplanned dinner out was sweet and it only took my husband ten or fifteen minutes to eventually sever the pot from the burner.

    I’ve never found another pot quite like that one I loved so much. And I never,ever cook while writing without setting at least three timers. I tried setting one next to me and nearly had a repeat of that event when I turned it off, promising myself I’d just finish this one last thought. So now I set a second one, close enough to get my attention, but out of my reach so I have to get up to turn it off.

    • Hello Ann,
      I have a question about English proofreading. May I contact you?

      Yours,
      Bahram Rafati

    • We once melted a pot. There in addition to smoke, and a bad smell, there were aluminium-sickles dripping from the bottom. It came off the burner ok, but the pot was, shall we say, toast.

  2. Fire Smoke Water
    I read in the news, several years ago, that a submarine control room caught fire at sea because of an electrical malfunction, and the officers on board were smothered by the smoke. As I sat at my own work post, in a control room looking through a dark, plate-glass window which reflected the green and red lights of the control panel, I began to draw some frightening comparisons with the submarine fire.
    My job involved electrical operation of switches and communications, to facilitate movement inside a maximum security building. The switches were turned on and off using a touch screen computer. In the event of an emergency evacuation due to smoke, chemicals, or fire; my job was to get everyone to safety. I had an oxygen tank and fireman’s mask to allow me to stay until the end.
    The control room switches were connected by wires to access points and communication equipment throughout the building. They, however, could burn and the system could fail. In the control room, if it was filled with smoke, my touch screen would be invisible: inoperable. Even though I could breathe using the face mask and oxygen tank, I wouldn’t be able to see anything. It’s impossible to feel your way across a touch screen, but I guess nobody ever thought of that when it was incorporated into the operation. There were dozens of electrical cables and devices in my work area which could also burn and produce toxic fumes. Those can enter your bloodstream through your skin. I wondered what would happen if the sprinkler system came on, and soaked all the electrical equipment.
    The poor guys in the submarine control room were sitting ducks, and I think I probably was a sitting duck too. Thankfully the thing I feared never came upon me.

    Larry K

  3. i used to keep a magazine clipping tacked to the wall in my cubicle at work. It said that 98% of the things we worry about never happen. But that quirky side of me that was raised by a superstitious mother and grandmother always wondered whether worry was what actually kept those potential happenings at bay. So I guess there’s no consolation for a determined worrier.

    Thanks for your kind comment on my story.

  4. Fire changed the lives of the fiŕe up the street last week. Imagine sitting at home on a snowy afternoon and spotting smoke emanating from under the door to the garage. Get out is your first thought. You and your spouse grab your dog and phone to call 911. Neighbors did the same. All of your family are safe. Alas, the vehicles , the garage and home you love are destroyed. But how did it happen.?

  5. Heart wrenching.

  6. One Summer long ago
    Love’s flame burnt bright
    Until the wind blew the ashes away

  7. I was very small – four or five – walking in the woods with my sister, fourteen or so, on a warm summer day. Relaxed and happy, enjoying the sunshine on an ordinary afternoon.
    Then something strange: my mother calling out our names. “Come home ! Come home!” It wasn’t dark, or mealtime. Then sirens and a creeping scent of smoke.
    As a child, it was a small moment, our walk cut short, returning home. As an adult, I now know my mother must have been terrified, because in the woods on the west side of the pond there was a fire, and in the woods on the north side were her children.

  8. Test

  9. Chronicles of the Air War
    Chapter 7: “A Hot Time Over Berlin” or “Lancastration”

    By Maj. Enfield Vincent-Norton, RAF Ret.

    “Fire,” shouted Mumson from the relative comfort of his co-pilot station. The bloody wanker was always on about something, so I chose to concentrate instead on the crossword I had been working since we crossed the channel. A six-letter word for “Hun” had me stumped.

    “Fire!” repeated the retentive Mumson. Unable to stand his incessant bleating any longer, I took a look out the right-hand windscreen only to find number four belching flame. “Bad show,” I thought, having hoped to have the crew back to Chadwick in time for afternoon tea and a good rub-down before the evening meal. Blast these Nazis and their ball-bearing factories.

    As luck would have it, our Lancaster, having four engines, would be able to fly on the remaining three, if only the conflagration consuming number four could be extinguished. Unable to convince Mumson to lean out his window with a fire extinguisher, I knew I had to fall back on techniques learnt in RAF basic training at Wryte-on-Tyne.

    Yes, Wryte had been a wonderful experience for a young man dreaming of becoming an aeronaut. Each day began with a hearty breakfast before first light, followed by intensive flying exercises. The afternoons were given over to analysis of our performance with punishments meted out to those found lacking. I could still remember the smell of the tight rubber clothing and the chafing of the restraints used in those stimulating corrective sessions.

    As pleasant as the thought of those time had been, I knew quick thinking was the order of the day if I was to save Winnie and, by extension, the rest of my crew. Winnie, of course, being our mascot; a bull terrier one of the men had rescued, along with two pounds, fifteen shillings, and a tuppence, from an unconscious prostitute who had apparently become over-taxed by war-time demand.

    Yes, Winnie would be counting on us all this day, so, without further adieu, as they say on this side of the channel, I set my puzzle down, taking care to secure my pencil, and pushed the stick full forward. The Lancaster shuddered as she nosed over and began a rapid decent towards the pink bit on our navigation map labeled “Germany.”

    The flames emanating from number four began to whither almost immediately under the heavy onslaught of air pressure generated by our nearly supersonic speed. I casually monitored our altitude, and the whereabouts of the only pencil I had thought to bring with me, until the instrument registered just a few dozen meteres.

    “It’s out. It’s out,” cried Mumson, who had taken to touching himself in a socially inappropriate manner during the excitement. Assuming he was referring the fire on number four, I pulled the stick back just as we approached the ground, and the Lancaster, as she always did under the firm control of a steady hand, whizzed cleanly through the center arch of the Brandenburg Gate, wingtips nearly touching the bloody German edifice.

    “That’s it,” I cried.

    “What’s it?” asked Mumson, wiping his left hand on his flight jacket.

    “The six-letter word for Hun,” I exclaimed, uncharacteristically excited by the latest example of my unique brilliance.

    Next Time: Chapter 8 “Gerry Meandering” or “Three Against the Wind”

  10. Through work, my husband and I have lived in eight different communities in British Columbia. We have searched for a new home eight different times, and the one ‘must have’ at the top of the list has been a wood burning fireplace.
    In the early days when our boys were young one of our fall family projects was to head out to the bush and collect wood for the winter. As my husband drove the logging roads, the rest of us would stare out the truck windows in search of a standing dead tree. Once found, my husband would fall the tree and as he bucked it into pieces, I would start to split the rounds and the boys would toss the pieces into the back of the truck. When we got home we would stack the pieces ready for use during the winter months.
    When the weather got cold, each night before dinner, we would sit in front of the fire and take turns talking about our day and more importantly, listening to what had happened to everyone else that day. A sort of informal ‘talking circle’ for our family.
    Every fire is different. It changes with the type of wood used, (cedar burns fast, spruce sparks, and fir bark creates an intense heat) the size of the pieces and ebbs and flows as each new log burns down to ash. Its warmth can soothe a difficult day or melt the frozen boundary between two opposing points of view.
    In my mind, a fire is one of my favourite parts of winter.

  11. cranberrylodge

    Everything ok Ann? I’ve never known you to be away so long.-Barbara

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