Winter has come early to Tasmania. The official start of the season is June 1st but last Thursday, temperatures plummeted, winds were wild and snow fell halfway down that magnificent mountain which embraces Hobart. Such a sudden climate change from the brilliant Autumn days of clear skies and bright, though weak sun, was the topic of conversations for Hobartians before they scurried home to the warmth or remained in air conditioned workplaces. I cut my excursions short and hurried home to my fire as roads around the mountain were closed. While other forms of heating may be more efficient and balanced, there is something about a fire which satisfies at a deeper level of being. As one of the four classical Greek elements, its power seems to me more evident than the other three, Earth, Air and Water. For me, the construction of a fire connects me with human ancestors who not only used fire in practical ways but also as the hub of a wheel of connectedness and creativity, when people young and old gathered to hear the telling and retelling of Ancient stories. Gazing into a fire can be a mystical experience, just ask any cat! My feline companion, Mischka is entranced by the element and can be found gazing for hours at the flames. In that way, he reminds me of Richard Parker, the tiger from the “Life of Pi” who gazed meditatively into the heart of the cosmos. I allow myself the same pleasure and will frequently drift off into other realms. The fire outside reminds me of the fire within, not just the Yang organs of the body which produce sufficient inner fire to maintain good health but also the creative process which for me starts with a spark that must be must kindled into a
full blown flame. Fire is a capricious element and although there is a skill to building and maintaining the hearth fire, there is a suggestion of the uncontrollable about it. I lost a home to fire many years ago and have seen just how swiftly it can destroying things which we consider to be permanent and solid. I gained a new respect for the element after that and in fact it took me some years to be able to go anywhere near a fire. But now I have healed from that trauma and can appreciate the mesmerising warmth and inspiration which only a fire in winter can bring.