This afternoon, following days of rain and hot sun, clouds and wind and lightening, the weather seemed to steady itself. In need of a little steadying myself, I wandered out into the yard with fire on my mind. The rains had allowed the local burning-ban to be lifted and all I could think of was pulling out my fire bowl again after months of being without it.
After starting the fire, I tossed some of my herb bundles on top. Walking around the low bowl, I suffumigated myself with the fragrant smoke from the burning stalks of local sagebrush, yarrow and the mugwort from my garden. The smoke was delicious, and I shook out my just-washed hair to soak up some of the scent. It wasn't long before the neighbours murmured a greeting through the fence and then headed inside their home. The odd girl next door was at it again.
Fire is one of my favourite partners in meditation and divination. I was raised in the woods, in front of a campfire by my outdoorsman parents, so it naturally feels like home to me. The popping sounds of the wood, the hiss and sizzle when a good portion of pitch is present, and the low hum of the flame consuming its fuel - all put me in an almost immediate trance.
After a time, I refocused on my surroundings. I noticed how orderly the yard was. Raised garden beds with perfect borders, spaced evenly, with rows of vegetables, flowers and herbs within. A neat stack of firewood. Garden tools all contained in a caddy. Everything seemed tidy and carefully arranged. It made me wonder how much of my life I tried to keep in perfect order.
I'm a Virgo, so perfectionism is something I've wrestled with more than once. That part of me is in a nearly constant battle with the girl who just wants to live in a purple Volkswagen van with a little barbeque and a hammock and a huge stack of books. I'm one part librarian and one part gyspy. It can be frustrating.
Fortunately, a good long fire allows for a good long consideration of whatever your mind is chewing on, and after a time bemoaning my perfectly boring yard, I noticed the dandelions - which I adore, but which lead other folks to insanity. I noticed the bumper crop of tomatoes lolling all over the bed and over the edge, heavy with their fruit. I smiled at the weeds getting high along the fence line - knowing that I'd get some more plantain harvested out of that jungle before the lawn mower came out again.
There is wildness everywhere. It shows us that life is happening. It is moving. Growing. Changing.
I can spend as much as I want to keep the yard orderly, but eventually nature takes over again. Nothing is perfect.
I am fortunate. Any time I need a bit of true "wild" I can drive five minutes up the road and end up heading into the valley's hills. Here at home though, I think I've been spending a bit too much time on perfection. After a summer of trying so hard to keep order, I feel like I need a bit of unruly in my life.
Right at this moment, I smell of woodsmoke and herbs. I could be doing a dozen things, from emptying my in-box at the office, to grinding the herbs and resins that are gathered waiting to become incense. But I think I'll jump onto my bed and surround myself with pillows and books and enjoy the lingering scent on my skin and hair.
This is just the beginning of fire season. And the beginning of me finding a little wildness beyond the order.