(Eagle is photoshopped into my photo of Vallejo hills)
Dedicated to the survivors of the Santa Rosa fires, who have shown remarkable resilience.
Two Faces of Fire
Fire is life-giver Created by Sun, A ball of fire.
Fire is comfort...
Candle's glow Light in the darkness Bringing hope.
Flame on hearth After hard day's work Cozy warmth.
Meat roasting Pleasant aromas Sharing meals.
Fire is power...
We harness For good and evil For our use
Fire is destruction...
Lightning strikes Red hot blazing fires Then ashes.
Fire is rebirth...
Green grass growing Long-buried seeds sprouting Retuning life.
The ancients knew We could not be trusted So they guarded the fire From us humans.
But Prometheus Stole the torch for his friends Coyote too, stole fire, Brought it to us.
Humans used it To stay warm on cold nights, To cook their food to eat, For controlled fires.
For gunpowder, Fireworks and dynamite, Combustible engines, Rockets....and bombs.
Fire was unleashed, Growing out of control, Used by humans for good And destruction.
Phoenix Rising For Chuck and Kati
Once there was a man who lived in the hills. The man loved the hills that were green in the winter and golden in the summer, He loved the dark green oaks that dotted the hills. But he was a scientist by profession and had to spend many hours in his office and lab, so he didn’t often get to walk in his beloved hills. Finally, the time came when the man could retire. Now every morning he took a walk in the hills. He looked up at the sky to watch the birds soaring. He looked down into the valley at the neatly laid-out vineyards. He looked into the branches of the oak tree to watch the baby squirrels play and the jays gather acorns. He listened to the high-pitched call of the hawk, the chittering of the squirrels, the soft murmur of traffic from the freeway below. He knelt down to look at the earth at his feet. He watched the sowbugs crawl, the snail creep, the towhee hop. And he saw the fallen wood from the oak trees. One day, the man picked up a fallen oak branch and he got an idea. He would carve something out of the branch. He put it on a shelf where he could look at it every day. And he took to carrying it with him each morning when he took his walk. “What are you doing with that stick?” his wife would ask. And he would answer, “Just wait and see.” The idea grew. And while it grew, the man built himself a little studio under a large oak tree by the house. Finally, the studio was finished and the man was ready to carve. Every morning after his walk he worked, carefully chipping away the wood and smoothing it until the shape emerged. When he had finished carving, he smoothed it and shined it, until it shone golden in the sunlight. It was a bowl. He took it to show his wife. “What a fine bowl,” she exclaimed. “You captured the colors and shape of the oak tree in it.” The man was pleased. “It is yours,” he told her. The next day, when the man took his walk, he found another oak branch. He took it home and put it in his studio to study. Soon, he had made another creation. This one was a large spoon to go with the bowl. Soon, he had a collection of wood carvings, which he began to sell. Some were bowls of madrone, others spoons of pine. But his favorite wood was always the oak. The man was happy in his retirement. He had a house he had built, a life companion, children and grandchildren to visit, and his beloved hobby. He spent many hours in his studio, planning and carving his creations. But one day, that all ended. He awakened in the night to the smell of fire. He and his wife grabbed what they could and fled the house. His studio was already in flames and he could do nothing to save it. For days, the fires burned and the couple did not know what was happening to their house and land. Finally, the flames subsided and they were able to visit their property. Nothing remained but ash. The man and his wife did not know what to do. “We are growing old,” she said. “It is too late to rebuild.” And the man agreed. After all, a house was just a house and they were grateful that they still had each other and their family. They would move and sell their land. The man and woman travelled a while, visiting their children and friends. Then they returned to their town and moved into a new home. It was just an abode, not like the home they had planned and built themselves and in which they had raised their family. But they were resilient and they remained upbeat as they started their new life. Still, the man could not forget his studio, which was no longer. He did not yet sell the land. And he took to walking in the hills, as barren as they now were. The grass, irrepressible, began to poke up its blades, then a brave flower grew and another and yet another. Soon the hills were green, dotted with golden poppies. The man drank this all in hungrily. Rebirth, he thought, unable to be destroyed by fire. Life would have its way. The man had avoided looking at the trees. He could not bear their scarred trunks, their lack of foliage. But the trees too, were resilient. They were scarred but not destroyed. One day, the man picked up a fallen oak branch that had burned. He looked at the blackened wood. Then he took out the carving knife he always carried and cut into the wood. Below the black bark, he found golden wood, streaked with black. How beautiful, the man thought. And he sat down on a stump right there and began to carve. He did not know what he was making, only that he needed to bring out that golden wood. When the sun grew high, the man pocketed his halfmade carving and returned home. But first, he stopped by the spot where his studio had stood. The large oak, although blackened, had withstood the fire. “I will rebuild my studio,” the man told himself. “I will rebuild my hobby. For that is my passion.” He returned home to his wife and told her his plan. The couple went to visit their son and the man was unable to return to his beloved hills for a while. But he took with him his carving tools and the piece of wood. He worked on it every morning. And gradually, a form emerged. It was a golden eagle, made from the golden wood of the oak, with fire-blackened streaks. An eagle born of the fire. Finally, one morning, it was finished. He took it to show his family, “That’s beautiful,” his wife exclaimed. “But where did you get that beautiful wood? Is it wood from around here?” “No,” he told her, “it is from our own oaks. Tempered by fire.” “It is beautiful, Dad,” his son said. “A golden eagle. Perfect. Just like Phoenix rising.” The man told his family his plan. And they supported him fully. His son came to visit with his family and he helped his father rebuild his studio. His grandchildren ran through the hills and brought him oak branches. And soon his studio was ready again. As the man walked in the hills, he saw the animals returning. He especially watched the birds, who flew above it all. The hawks, the turkey buzzards, the crows and ravens, the blue jays, and the occasional golden eagle. And this is what he began to carve, each bird a representation of phoenix rising. In time, the man had a large collection of these birds and showed them in town. He did not sell them as he had the bowls, but he did give many away, each time to someone who had suffered a loss of some kind. And his birds became prized, not only in his own hometown, but all over the country. The man was content once again. He had his bosom companion at his side, his growing family, a home, the hills that were one again green in winter and golden in summer- and his beloved studio, where he spent every morning in contented silence, carving beauty from fire-scarred wood.
Fire as Metaphor
A Sobering Thought
For many of us who've thought seriously and long Little's gone right in our world and much has gone wrong. Is this really fact or only surmise? Or is it because of the expectations we prize, Because of the too much that we expect And because of the too little we know?
Becoming and Unbecoming
Cultures have come and gone, They will continue to come and go, And ours is no exception, Not here to stay forever.
Cultures are spawned by religions, Religions are born of belief, Belief is the fruit of need, Of need for solace and promise.
Cultures flourish in belief, Belief wears thin in time, Suspicion then leads to doubt, Doubt to disbelief, Disbelief to destruction, The demise of a culture spent.
Cultural voids are chaotic, Painful and bewildering, Respite is sought anew, New belief is found, A new religion is born, Yet another culture is spawned.
These changes are never ending, For basic human needs Will seek and find their balm In ever-changing religions, In cultures that come and go, Mourn then rejoice.
Nothing is here to stay. Let go what has gone its allotted course, Let go what is tired and spent, Let go what can no longer live, Let go what is ready to go. But treasure the memory.
Epigrams by JM
To overvalue things is to undervalue humans.
A peace of mind is better than a piece of property.
Not to suffer some want in life is to be deprived.
Fire is both an agent of death and life.
Beauty is most commonly found in the uncommon.
Píccola opines: I like the warmth of the sun and human bodies, not fires.