Friday, October 26, 2012

Impatience Dampens the Fire

I live at an 8000 foot altitude, and now, in late October, the temperature goes well below freezing at night.

So I lit a fire in my woodstove yesterday.

The process seemed irritatingly slow. Did I really need so much kindling. (Kindling, yesterday, would have involved crumpling many pieces of paper and going into the cold outside to get smaller pieces of wood.) Did I really need to set my materials in the stove just so?

Well, I did get that fire hot enough in the end (a modern, efficient woodstove functions best within a certain temperature range) but it took a good hour of work—adding yes, more kindling, and lots of blowing on the fire. At least five or six times I walked away, thinking all was finally well—and had to return to work on that fire again.

There was no mistaking this lesson delivered by the natural intelligence of fire. .. "Be patient at the outset. Build your foundation carefully. When you do that, Sibylle, I'll be up and burning beautifully within five to ten minutes, instead of sixty minutes."

Yes, it's a principle that's been demonstrated over and over again through the centuries, and I am near the back of a long line of people who have already discovered it.

And in my experience, it's a principle that's easy to forget in the urban world where I've spent most of my life. Just about everything in that world was done for me by others. Starting things off on a solid foundation was something I knew about intellectually. But even if I screwed up on this concept, I'd still be warm, fed, and have transportation. Now that the stakes are a little higher, I'm really understanding the toll that impatience can take.

In case you're interested, here's a video that took me a long way towards being able to fire up my woodstove with competence!

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