Every morning, now that it’s truly winter, one of my daily morning chores is to clean out the wood burner and lay a fresh fire ready for the day.
I can hardly call it a chore, really. It’s more like a wondrous delight. There’s something about the ritual of cleaning and laying the fire that makes my body tingle with aliveness. It makes me feel like I’m actually here, you know?
I suppose it has something to do with our primal survival instinct. The stove is our only source of heating and although I doubt very much we’d die without it, it’s quite vital to our days.
Having to undertake a daily task that contributes to your simple survival as a human being is deeply satisfying. It makes you feel a part of everything – part of the web of life – in a way that the modern world can’t.
I’ve found that my eyesight has changed since having the wood burner, too. For example, I seem to have developed a vision especially for twigs! A twig is no longer just a twig. A twig is the key to a successful fire. A twig is warmth. A twig is happiness. Everywhere I go they leap out at me.
My fire laying and lighting skills have improved dramatically. Now, my fires almost always light first time, with very little smoke. You cannot begin to imagine how accomplished this makes me feel!
So each morning I bring in the ash bucket from outside the front door and I scoop out the ash from the previous day. I’d never taken much notice of ash before, but it’s quite beautiful.
It’s soft and pillowy, like a fluffy summer cloud or a well risen bread dough before it’s beaten back down. It’s so light it’s almost as if it’s not there and when you touch it and feel how light and soft it is, you somehow feel as though you’ve touched the very essence of existence.
When I touch the ash, I see and feel inside me the trees it once was. Trees who stood in the forest, taking in carbon dioxide, providing food and shelter for birds and other wildlife, and nourishing the earth with their fallen autumn leaves. I see and feel how the trees became fire to warm me and I see how the ash will go onwards back to the earth.
And when I see and feel all this, my heart grows big with wonder and gratitude. To see how everything is dependent on everything else. To see the perfection in creation. To see how death is just the beginning of a new journey in a different form.
To see how everything goes on.
Love and courage,
P.S. I’m sending you so much love for tomorrow’s Winter Solstice. I can’t believe the light will already be returning. Still, there are many more cosy days by the fire to come. May you be warm and safe wherever you are.
P.P.S. Little photo of me by the fire. Hugs from me to you 🙂