Every day since waking up in the hospital I’ve wanted to die, but watching that man sink below the waves, I feel something inside me rise up. A Dragon doesn’t surrender. A Dragon fights fate. This is not some loud, roaring feeling. It feels more like someone blew on an ember and found a slight orange glow. I have to hang on to my life—however ruined and useless. Mama’s voice comes floating to me, reciting one of her favorite sayings, “There is no catastrophe except death; one cannot be poorer than a beggar.” I want—need—to do something braver and finer than dying.
―Lisa See,Shanghai Girls
I would like to hold your hand as it holds this green leaf, yellowed, that fell early from its tree, this Autumn. And I would like to imagine that it feels your careful care, for your eyes are warmed by your heart, and I would let you sadly nestle into me as a bird folds into its nest, resigning itself to a storm. For my heart is as large as a city, and it glows with the fire that, with the right mischievous love, shall serve to inspire thousands upon thousands to inspire thousands upon thousands.
―Waylon Lewis, Things I Would Like To Do With You
If you couldn’t sense heat, you’d not be alive. And if that heat never grew uncomfortable, you would never move. And if you were stagnant—unchallenged by unpredictable flares—you would never grow capable of shielding yourself from harsher flames. So yes, life was meant to drag you straight through the fire.
“Listen to th’ wind wutherin’ round the house,” she said. “You could bare stand up on the moor if you was out on it tonight.”
Mary did not know what “wutherin’” meant until she listened, and then she understood. It must mean that hollow shuddering sort of roar which rushed round and round the house as if the giant no one could see were buffeting it and beating at the walls and windows to try to break in. But one knew he could not get in, and somehow it made one feel very safe and warm inside a room with a red coal fire.
I have enjoyed discovering a menagerie of characters in these campfire photos from a night my husband and I spent near Great Sand Dunes National Park last summer. It’s a bit like picking figures and objects out of the clouds, but the contrast between light and darkness makes these images very dramatic.
Of all the characters I have described, this one is my absolute favorite, although The Boy Made of Wood (Pinocchio/Puck) is a very close second. There is something melancholic about this woman that I simply can’t resist. Here are two shots of her.
The Soul in the Flame #1
She turns away in her strapless gown, wistful, a shimmering profile. Perhaps the partner she seeks has not arrived, or maybe she plays hard to get. Her hair curls playfully behind her ear- should we ask her to dance?
This is the second set of photos from a campfire near Great Sand Dunes National Park. As the fire gets rolling, the flame take up more intricate and bizarre dances, making for wilder personifications.
#1 A Jealous Duck
An old ghoul, open mouthed and square jawed, applauds a dancing sea horse, completely enthralled. A prim and proper duck looks on from above, either thoroughly unimpressed or feeling left out. Even fire imp parties have their petty jealousies.
A monkey and a fox sit chatting, trying to decide which of them is the most noble. They want to know if anyone has seen that rascal Aesop, because someone stole their rucksack.
When this couple gets together the sparks fly, although I’d have to say she is hotter than he is. She however, believes there’s nothing like an old flame.
#4 Cross Legged Girl
Come on, if you could sit cross legged in a fire, wouldn’t you?
#5 The Orator and His Cat
Dramatic presentation is this guy’s forte. Look at that heroic claw! Unfortunately, he’s being upstaged by his cat, who likes to eat steak thrown at him by the audience.
Just a few bright, tired imps left on the dance floor. I don’t have the heart to poke them into life again.
This week I am sharing a series of photos which I took at our campfire near Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado last June. Looking at them, I not only remember a beautiful, cool summer night at just over 8,000 feet in elevation, but I enjoy making out figures and creatures in the flames. These images are like catnip for my imagination; I hope you enjoy them too!
#1: Twilight: Jupiter and Venus Approach
Night falls like a cloudy blanket while the bright planets preside, named for ancient gods of power and love. My husband wants to douse our firewood with lighter fluid but I, raised in the country, long for a steadier, prettier blaze that doesn’t stink of chemicals. The mountain air is already forgetting its moisture; I remember making fire. The local fire imps are not pretentious; a few matches and some dry wood are enough for their escapades.
#2: He Wore a Stovepipe Hat
Our first friendly imp appears wearing a stovepipe hat, his left hand flashing a peace sign- or is he making a fire bunny? No, it is only his pet snail. Dressed as he is, this dapper guest must be Uncle Sam or Honest Abe or else the duplicitous Cat in the Hat. And who was the surly rogue who fired a shot through his tall chapeau?
#3 Have a Seat
This one is asking for you, this dark skinned prince in a white tunic and headscarf. Nonchalant, he sits in the fire pit, sipping a very dry and spicy martini. While you hesitate, he becomes a gleaming prairie dog sitting before a cash register. “Are you going to pay up?” he chirps. All this talk of payment reminds me too much of Mephistopheles. Such an imp surely puts on airs.
#4 The Boy Made of Wood
Here’s a boy made of wood, his face smudged with ash and his nose lengthening suspiciously as he points into the distance, as if to blame some other soul for his mischievous handiwork. What lies has this rakish Pinocchio told tonight? Will there be more?
Soft boyish cheeks melt into air, revealing a shining, shapeshifting soul. Puck, your tail is showing!
The last deep colors of sunset conjure forth a molten geisha, lovely and untouchable. Her beauty appears delicate, but she would burn you without remorse.
Did you see something different? I’d love to know! I’ll have more fire imps for you soon!
They say a good love is one that sits you down, gives you a drink of water, and pats you on top of the head. But I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like a wildfire and you can’t stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch! I say that’s a good love; one that burns and flies, and you run with it!
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.