While tending a burn pile at the dog sanctuary, I ate a modest breakfast of apple, cheese and hard boiled eggs. Our starving and freezing boys at Valley Forge would have relished its succulence. Much better than tree bark and owls’ heads cooked by candle.
What really happened at Valley Forge during that icy winter?
The fire raged, flames licked 10 feet into the air. I tossed slayed blackberries upon the pyre and blackberry smoke went up, whipped around, and enveloped me. I love the smell of blackberries burning in the morning. It smells like…?
I tended the fire in gray corduroys, a blue dress shirt, and black Nike running shoes. I brought along fire tending tools and notebook paper and pens. I stank of smoke and sweat.
My mind drifted toward unforgettable moments with people and dogs around burn barrels and burn piles. I remember once playing Lucinda Williams’ “Essence” on guitar for someone, as the fire sparked and blazed , and I wondered how anything could improve on that. I’m not sure it has.
I would take this fire and this field and this view of the river and clearcuts over an ocean view.
Dogs barked behind me. I heard birds chirp and tweet deep in the willows and alders. A bicyclist laden with gear pedaled by. I waved to him and he waved back.
I forgot the damn Rainier for breakfast! What a burn pile amateur!
Burn piles clarify the mind.
Watching fire turns truth into inevitability.
I am counterattacking against insanity and cannibalism with my creative mind.
I felt compelled to write a letter to a friend languishing in a far flung city, where the homeless light fires near the river, for warmth, to roast lizards, and create totemic power against everything we’ve created. They are gentrifying the beavers right out of there. The beavers need a Lorax.
Fire makes me write like this. Just imagine if had Rainier?
How many letters have I written around a burn pile or burn barrel the last 21 years of living on the Oregon Coast? Hundreds. But not enough. Who wants one?
Something caught my eye: a red hummingbird darted around the edges of the fire. I’d never seen a hummingbird near a burn pile.
I stood up from my chair and moved closer to inspect. I didn’t think about taking a photograph. I was really seeing. I was walking into the fire. My shoes started smoking.
The hummingbird flew into the flames; he bored into the wavy heat. I saw a hummingbird fly through fire. I saw a hummingbird fly through fire.
Where do you go with this as a writer?
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