I have a brother who understands my love of fire.

When I was in Florida in March, I woke up one morning to the smell of burning wood. I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. Matthew had started a fire for me! Better yet, he had set up my special chair, “Spicey,” a red folding chair we found at Home Depot, next to a big ol’ pile of kindling, so I could keep feeding my morning pyre. Oh yeah!

I’m not sure when my love affair started. Maybe it was the first time I went camping. I remember wearing my favorite jean jacket and loving how the smoke attached to the denim, how it wove into my hair. I loved that smell. I had heard that there was a chant you were supposed to do to prevent the smoke from following you around the campfire. You were supposed to say, “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.” I never chanted. I loved my fire. I wanted that smoke.

Throughout my adult years, whenever I have had a chance to be with fire, I have savored watching it change colors, shift the positions of logs as a powerful, moving sculpture, breaking everything down into ash. I’ve listened to wind meet fire, making it applaud softly. I’ve relished the sound of twigs snapping, the deep hum of oak, the crackle of pine. Fire has always soothed me.

When the sun isn’t out, I feel cold and I hate it. I light candles, and for a moment, I am ok. The snap of the match is satisfying, the sulfur, a breath I need, and those little baby flames are so cute dancing like they do, but alas, candles don’t usually do the trick. No. I want more. I want a bigger fire.

I think about how I have too many papers, journals, magazines, newspaper articles, bills. I think about the neighbor’s fire pit. I consider asking if I can sit with them, maybe throw some things in, but I know myself. Papers wouldn’t be enough. Soon, I’d be asking if I could add unwanted knick knacks, maybe even furniture. This wouldn’t be neighborly, and backyard bonfires probably aren’t legal.

Still, with my dreams of fire, I am dangerous person all winter long and on any grey day.

This is why I have to go to Florida, to be under the big fire of the sun, to bike in the swamps where the scent of the purposeful burns wafts onto the trail. I have to go to Florida to be with a brother who understands, a brother who will encourage me to sit by a fire until I’ve burned all my kindling down.

Thank you, Matthew.