In the winter I have a morning meditation. It starts in October and ends in April. It is one I have to do in the morning whether I like it or not, more to the case whether I want to be warm or not. Before morning tea or toast, with sleep still in my eyes, I must create fire. It is a simple and essential art to bring flame to hearth, to make the wood stove roar and the house warm. There is little thought that goes into it now. The movements are the same for 180 or so days but as in all art forms so much relies on attention to detail. The right paper, the right kindling, the right placement and right amount of oxygen, all subject to the most important ingredient, the right amount of patience. Each winter morning for that short time my focus is unaltered. It remains so until I hear the crackle and pop of success. It is then that I am free to go set the kettle to boil. After I return, front seat to flame, satisfied and at ease with breakfast tea in hand; I am ready to indulge in the hypnosis of flame. All those who have a wood stove know its joy despite the smoke and splinters. In the face of chainsaws and chimney fires, the later in fact only renewing my devotion to proper fire etiquette, I am grateful for this morning ritual and meditation. Both a treat and necessity of winter; it furnaces my own love of home and hard work. I have come to in fact feel sorry for all the people a switch and a dial removed from such a primal and cozy experience. My sympathies even extend so far as to those basking in the sun and sand of some tropical beach with the only flame at hand a tiki torch. All the summers chopping till my back was sore, the arm loads of wood carried from from shed to house, and the cold gumboots at dawn as I fetch the driest kindling. It all evaporates by November morning’s flame. All the work that fuels the winter’s affair with wood burned warmth is replaced by naked yoga in the loft, sleeping on top of bed covers through December’s snow fall, and tea at dawn with eyes lost in the flame.