The Fire - Nature's TV.

February 14, 2022

The power and beauty of fire

From an early age, fire has captivated me. Its power, its danger, and its ephemeral beauty. Living on these damp, cold western islands, I have often pondered the reverence with which our ancestors treated this life-sustaining element. Without fire, life would be impossible during the cruel winter months. Ever ingenious, our forefathers generated it reliably on command and learned ways to harness its powers for cooking, metal work and war.

Open fires are still a domestic necessity in many parts of the world, particularly Africa, but I reflect how over 40 years in my country fires have largely moved from being a necessity to an optional heating extra within the household. This is a good thing and reliable oil or gas fired central heating makes life easier. But I have a nostalgia for the old way.

Playing with Fire

I remember sitting on the floor of my grandparents’ house in front of their huge mantle piece and steel framed open fire. The aroma of turf and the sweet smell of the holly being burned after Christmas all remind me of a happy childhood in the countryside.

My interest in fire was first ignited when my parents bought me the 'SAS survival handbook' by John Wiseman. I was fortunate my Grandparents owned a reasonable amount of land and in the rougher areas, I camped and taught myself how light fires reliably and experimented with designs such as the snake pit and Yukon stove.

But then I grew up, my grandparents moved to suburbia and the closest I got to a naked flame was the odd boil in the bag cooked over a hexamine burner. Innoculate your family against apathy and digital distraction.

"Innoculate your family against apathy and digital distraction."

Rediscovering an old friend

Part of growing older has been the re-discovery of the things I used to enjoy as a youth. Now with a house and respectable sized garden, I started experimenting with fires of a summer evening.

I was always frustrated getting smoked out. Living at the top of a hill should have helped, but it didn't. The smoke swirled in increasing circles.  

Over 10 years ago, I bought very efficient Dutch wood burner, and I saw how it could cope with smoke through secondary burns and I wondered if such advancements had worked their way into fire pits. It is obvious they could not be just as efficient, but perhaps an improved design could influence the burn. There are now a couple of cleaner burn fire pits to choose from. I settled on the Feuerhand, a sturdy German stainless steel model. I have a short video review below.

Parting shot

Let us not forget the old skills and become too reliant on others. Central heating is clean and easy but how many yarns (stories) have been told sat around a radiator? Not many!

Maybe you can't have a woodstove or fire in your house but don't neglect the opportunity to go to the beach and or into your backyard of a summer evening with family and friends. Light a campfire and bathe in its radiant warmth as the sun goes down.

Bonds will be forged, memories made and old family stories passed down as in former years.

Nothing life affirming happens in front of the television - get out there and light a fire safely. Let its glowing embers Innoculate your family against apathy and digital distraction.