Sunday, January 29, 2012

You and I and a Flame Make Three

Last night, I attended the Eighth Annual Winter Bonfire (and Xmas Tree Immolation) at Golden Gardens, a beach in the northern part of Seattle.  The light clouds provided insulation from the bitter cold, and friends, neighbors, and strangers gathered around three glowing fire pits. Every few minutes or so, a family Christmas tree, that had been drying out for over a month, was tossed into a pit. The fire would swallow the tree, sending its flames several feet into the air and washing the watchers in heat. Whoops and hollers would echo as the flames licked higher and brighter.

Papers and pencils were passed around for people to write wishes and toss them into the flames. Our host said, "Your wishes will come true! Or they won't." 

Fire dancers delighted us with fast spinning heat while djembe players set the rhythm. This woman's hips seemed to dictate the movement of the flames around her, swinging fast or sashaying slowly. The glow beneath her made her smile look Cheshire wild. 

Many of my personal rituals involve fire and heat. When I'm sick, I make a special concoction, heat it to near boiling and drink it very quickly, letting the heat scour the sickness out of my body. A celebratory alone night involves a steaming hot salt bath and fogged mirrors. Thanksgivings with the family used to be spent around a bonfire with a drum circle and capoeira. I've sent letters addressed to people I'm struggling to let go of into the flames of beach fires, or let them be consumed from the small flame of a match. I light a candle when I am cooking a meal for a friend and want to put intention and love into what I am cooking. 

One of my favorite songs right now (that coincidently captures my feelings about fire, love, and life) is Akron/Family's "River." 

And once this spark met kindling
Forgets its gentle ambling
Becoming heat, becoming steam
Becoming luminescent glee
Atoms splinter, sparkling
Alive and nimble symmetry
And all along, this glistening
Blankets we and everything
Shadows dance triumphantly
A wordless whisper sighs and pleas
Little deaths envelope thee
You and I and a flame make three

I've felt the sparkling of splintering, and I love it. 


  1. 'you and i and a flame make three' - Wonderful
    Lovely reading your relationship with fire.

  2. what an amazingly fun and cathartic ritual! wish we had such a rad way to get rid of our christmas tree. loved this song too, thank you!

  3. Such a beautiful post! So beats putting the tree out on the curb!

  4. I just love the way you write, the images that appear from your words. Fire is so fierce, wild, elemental, essential, it defines us as a race, yet is not our invention, only our discovery, a feral thing not quite tamed.

  5. on a wholly other topic, did you see this yet:

  6. amazing photos of what looks like a beautiful night.