There are three types of fires and three types of people one should always be aware of.
The first fire is the kind that’s burning out of control. You’re not sure where it’s going to end up or what damage it could potentially do. You haul the furniture out of the way and make room for this explosion because when it comes, it’s there. The kind that attracts your eyes so flamboyantly that your body feels it. Bright. Quick. Sharp. Despite the spark that let it begin, there is a madness to it that can’t easily be escaped. It’s an attraction that you might be fooled into thinking will be there forever. You could be having a fine time when all of the sudden you are sucked into something so beautiful that by the time you take your eyes off it, you could be burned up in the commotion.
The second type is one that’s kept in a fire place or wood stove. Little bits of paper are saved up from the Sunday New York Times and stacked neatly in the living room for special occasions. You wait all year for fire weather to begin, and if it’s not quite there by the time you NEED a fire, than you crank the air conditioning or roll down the windows, and light a match anyway. The firewood has been stored in bulk from last year, ‘just incase.’ There are fire pokers, fire prongs, sawdust, wooden stakes, boxes among boxes of matches, and plenty of supervision. This is the kind of fire that takes timing. It takes patience and lots of care. Perhpas you are sitting around drinking cocktails with family or friends while one eye is always watching, ‘just to make sure.’ At night, when you pry yourself away from the glow, you can still hear it crackeling downstairs as if it’s calling to tell you ‘I’ll see you in the a.m. Don’t worry.’
The last type is probably the most quiet. The kind that is decorated in an upscale house with fruit paintings lined ‘just so’ on the mantle. Guests may come in and out and on such an occasion you might need a fire to keep some sort of entertaining image glowing. These are the times of fake logs. The twenty-somethings or the money holders with out experience and patience. It’s the paper kind that you don’t even have to peel off the log before setting a match to flame. They burn for a few hours, it’s a rich glow with out much sound. There’s nothing to it. Ease comes fast and no work is required. As the hours grow longer the fire starts to dwindle. ‘It will last longer’, you think to yourself, but the crackeling was never there to begin with. When all the guests have left the house, you see yourself rearranging the pictures on the mantle and blowing out the candles. The fire is almost out. You don’t have to pour a bucket of water on it. You don’t have to poke it with a fire stick. You know that there is no sound to tell you it will be there in the morning. It wasn’t really there in the beginning.