The fire swells. Its initial spark, fuelled by dry bark and a strong gust of wind, becomes a flash, a flame, an inferno. It paints the world yellow and makes my baby boy’s big blue eyes grow even bigger.
It moves, tripping and twirling, seizing the breeze. It shape-shifts into memories, pirouettes into possibilities. I will take your most secret dream and set it alight, it says.
It sings, whistling and crackling and hissing and hush. Its song is far removed from the racket of the city. There is no traffic here - no honking cars or screeching brakes, no streetcar bells or wailing sirens. Instead, there is deep silence interspersed with crooning crickets, lapping waves, and the sizzling orange light.
We are people connected by this growing, moving, singing fire. It has been burning, summer after summer, for a thousand years. The houses have changed and the scenery too. Parents have aged and children have grown. But around these flames, it's always home.
We sit in a circle of no beginning nor end, sharing stories and laughter and remember whens. We look up at the moon, admire the stars, and feel the knots in our muscles unravel.
We haven’t seen each other in months and our phone conversations have been brief. We are busy, all of us. Busy with work, school, life.
Busy forgetting the simplicity of things. Like the joy that comes from waking up at 5am to the call of the loon on the lake.
This fire brings us back. Back to the easy, uncomplicated way of life. Back to early morning swims and afternoon bike rides down long and winding roads. Back to afternoon naps under storytelling clouds. Back to roasting marshmallows for dessert and enjoying the sticky sweet mess of it all.
It brings us back to the love that warms our insides and our outsides and lifts us up and out of the darkness we sometimes stumble into. The love that threads our individual stories into a tattered but spectacular rag quilt called "family."
Every summer, the fire burns, the crickets croon, the shooting stars rouse our wildest wishes, and our hearts are set ablaze.