Snap, crackle, pop. What image do those three words bring to mind? A certain childhood breakfast cereal, perhaps? Add flicker, glow and enchant to the list and hopefully a more toasty picture emerges, that of an open fire, emanating heat and radiating comfort while simultaneously mesmerising and grounding those whose faces flush pink in its warmth.
For many this scene will also include a sofa, a mug of something chocolate-y and sumptuous, and some good music or a book. Others might envision a line of trees and a moonlit sky as a hearty supper is cooked outdoors over an open flame and quiet voices harmonise with the soundtrack of a forest glade.
Either way, both the preparation and the appreciation of the scene offer the chance to immerse oneself, body and soul, into nature: the physicality and repetition to be found in splitting and stacking logs; the pleasure to be discovered as kindling is chosen and positioned; the excitement to be grasped as the fire takes; and the inner reflection encouraged by the patterns that burn into the night.
Yet fire is also unpredictable. And just as it can take time and effort to coax it into life, it also needs ongoing attention to keep it burning – more logs, minor adjustments – and a close eye to make sure its sparks cause no harm. Indoors or outdoors, it requires a focus on the here and now for those basking in its heat to stay safe and warm.
As the evenings draw in and the nights take on a distinctive chill, many will be preparing to hunker down for winter, some relishing the prospect, others wishing it was already over. Whichever camp you’re in or, indeed, if you straddle the two, make sure your mind and body stay snug and cosy. Do things that bring you pleasure, see people who bring you joy, try things that feel fresh. Keep the inner fire burning.
NEXT ISSUE INFO: Please note next issue #34 will be on sale on 12 November in the UK.