Fire is a basic element, so basic we forget how vital it is. A fire draws people to it for warmth and light, it burns away filth, it cooks.
A few months ago the boys and I were in the backyard, they were playing ball or in the dirt, and I was supposed to be grilling. Instead, I was building a fire in the fire pit. The boys stayed around for a while because I told them they could help, but when the first few attempts to light it failed, they moved on to more active things.
The truth was I just wanted to sit and stare at the burning wood. Fire, especially the solitary flame, is mesmerizing; when the wood burns down, begins to fall apart, the embers are still glowing, still emitting small flames that you can only see if you stare hard.
I can't say what I thought about. But the heat danced on my face like the flames on the branches, and as it sizzled and hummed, I smiled at its beautiful simplicity. It's curious something so dangerous can be breathtaking at the same time.