To glowing embers, dying but not yet dead, is added the shaking out of black and cold refreshment. The waiting starts, but not for long. The smoke begins to curl, shyly at first, until it grows in confidence and swells to a mass of thronging thickness rushing upwards to an unseen heaven. Fledgling flames creep and peep between the gaps as the base beneath the black stuff brightens ever brighter. Soft sparks jump like electric fleas; poppings and crackings and spittings join the chorus; plumes of smoke, driven by gasses trapped for millennia, stream free and unrestrained from individual coals to add their gay abandon to the rushing slate grey torrent. And then, to bring the celebration to a climax, the flames that once were creeping and peeping begin to dance, growing more and more populace and humming a single note that sings of warmth and the sustenance of life.
There are moves afoot to aim for a carbon free future. Coal is to be consigned to the fate of the steam engine; another piece of life’s little romance is to be taken from us. Necessary as this might be for the sake of the planet and the health of close-closeted populations, I can’t help but feel sad for future generations in a sanitized world, denied the joy felt by ancestors who delighted in being warmed by the natural comfort of real flame.