Build a fire Patricia Anne.
Yes build it Momma my shepherd dog Rumi says.
And so I begin with the wadded up newsprint and the crisscrossed kindling sticks and a small log so light it feels like cardboard or a foam block. I say oh this will burn very well.
I stack these in an airy way because though inexperienced at fire building I have observational know-how and I know a fire needs air to catch and breathe. So I assemble all this and light with much confidence and then this is disappointing me because my fire goes out again and again.
This fire building is frustratingly hard work I say. I will now create a metaphor to lure my love and he will come and build this fire for me.
So I do this and my love comes in and he says what is Patricia Anne doing now?
Well Patricia Anne has taken a chill and she is attempting to build a fire. Would you like to speak to her about this?
Yes I would. Does Patricia Anne have experience as a builder of fires? If not I can help her with this task.
Alas no Mistress Patricia Anne has observational experience only with the building of fires.
And then I add oh my love here is what I do that gives me so much trouble. I don’t take enough time to prepare the ground. But I stack tenderly and artfully even and yet my fire will not catch. It smolders only, briefly flares then smolders only again. I try over and over without success. What am I doing wrong? My paper is twisted and my kindling sticks atop. The larger logs placed just so atop again at cross purposes and yet I continue to fail. The fire will not catch. Can you make a suggestion? Can you come to my aid?
I can and I will. Now Mistress Patricia Anne listen to me and listen to me good. You must stack in layers crisscross you hear me?
Yes. I do. I do. Now I have done this just as you say and I have achieved success. My little fire flames lightly now.
Yes. Wonderful. So Mistress Patricia Anne you must feed that little fire as if your life depended on it crisscross woman crisscross and do not fail me now.
Oh I am doing it my love I am doing it. It is fun and exciting to watch my small flame grow.
Yes. Now Patricia Anne I must ask that you stoke that fire continually. You tell me you know what stoking means.
Yes I believe I do. Stoking means poking and feeding right? I take the iron prod and move the logs about with it and use my mouth as a bellows right? I blow on the embers just so and rightly until they spark?
Yes Patricia Anne. Do this. Give me a measure of your progress now.
Oh yes I make wonderful progress with the fire, my love. Let me describe it to you. It is a triangular stack of kindling sticks and small logs and it has a bustling bright flame shooting out the middle and way up into the flue and it makes a windy sound of comfort and it cracks and hisses too. The flame keeps to the center and burns there leaving the edges cool and as yet untouched. I am feeling very hopeful indeed about this effort. What say you sir?
I say well done Mistress Patricia Anne. You are well and fully stoked. The fire sounds perfect. Tell me how does it feel?
Oh kind sir it feels marvelous. I can feel the warmth on my face across the small room. The sound is cajoling and fills my heart chakra –actually fills it –and my throat chakra too. What a marvel of intentional fiery energy. I am sold on fire my love.
Well done. Well done. Now I must ask you to take your hand and . . .
Oh No No!
My dear my sweet this is part of the building of fires. Now listen. Take your hand and approach the fire with more kindling sticks. Choose the stout and hearty ones now. Deliver them gently and with precision into the center of the flame. Stoke softly. Do not overly disrupt the assembly.
Now let me tell you that I have done this and my fire rises high reaching up the chimney and crackles now but my love when first I approached and meddled with the logs assembled there they fell swiftly apart and scattered in bright falling of coal and ember most furiously. I feared the ruination of the flame. I made use of the tools-- a little coal shovel -- and I quickly reassembled the mass and then stacked the new and sturdy kindling sticks and after a few moments the fire burst anew and grander than before! It is a marvel. Underneath now glows a bed of coals and the lively flame dances on top and again rises in a great stream of flame up into the chimney stack. It makes a great hiss and rumble now too and fills my soul with pleasant yearning.
Mistress Patricia Anne I am astounded. I offer you great congratulations. Your fire sounds delightful and perfectly arranged.
Yes it is thank you. You have completed this fire challenge successfully Patricia Anne. My hat is off to you. Now enjoy the warmth of the fire’s glow.
Yes but if I may further intrude. I just now developed a stratagem and I would appreciate your counsel.
Yes. What is it my love?
Well sweetheart I determined that the stoking of the fire was an aggressive labor. What hard work this is. I mean to suggest that this fire building took much time and attention and kept me from my other duties.
Yes. Fire tending is demanding work my love. We men have always found it so. This is why we leave this labor to the men of the tribe. You see my love how it is exacting and takes great care. We understand that women are busy with many other demanding tasks. They cannot be the chief builders of fire. We honor that with our fire starting labor. But tell me again about this stratagem.
Yes. My stratagem is this. I observed the dropped and burning coals at the stone floor under the raised iron grate upon which my fire stack thrived. It occurred to me that I could leverage these coals to good advantage, exploit them towards the stoking’s purpose.
Yes. Go on. Go on.
Well I took the hearty kindling sticks and criss crossed them over the bottom coals to create a new flaming heat my love. I wish to know whether this was an advantageous thing to do for stoking purposes.
Yes my love yes. Why would it not be pray tell? You confuse me greatly with this question. Why ever would it not be advantageous to leverage the coals dropped to the bottom; why ever should they go to waste? I do not understand your reasoning. Why would you doubt such a stratagem and why would you require my counsel to proceed with confidence? Now look Patricia Anne. This is of grave concern to me. I desire your authority in the building of fires. I congratulate you on a swift learning and a new expertise. You show keen acumen and a clever mind. Conjectures such as these need no confirmation. You surprise me woman. Do tell me your reason.
Oh I have no reason beloved.
What? You have no reason? No. No reason at all. I merely posit the question to continue the fire debate. I love it so. It fills me with a great and urgent longing for you my love. I cannot explain why this would be so. It is the stoking and the poking I believe.
Well yes yes oh yes I see Mistress. Indeed it is the stoking and poking Patricia Anne.
Yes it is my love. It is. And might I inquire as to whether I may call on you again should my fire glow grow dim?
Yes Mistress. You may. You may renew this metaphor at any time day or night or any hour in between. It is my pleasure to serve only you Patricia Anne and I remain at your ready.
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