There is something about autumn that invites a backyard fire. The bugs are finally gone and the scent of dying leaves reminds us how few are the nights like this that we have left.
But then there is also something about the fire itself.
Something that is – that makes you want to poke at it.
“Good Grief!!! What in the world are you doing?”
“I’m just trying to adjust this log…”
“Leave it alone…”
“Okay, I will.”
“You can’t leave it alone, can you?”
“The fire is going out. If I only move…”
“Now you did it.”
It is a squabble as old as humanity.
I will bet that on the first night mankind harnessed fire, one spouse wanted only to enjoy the flames while the other felt compelled to endlessly fiddle with it. It is an ancient conflict, one that was to portend the modern struggle over the remote control.
Some things never change.
But a television you can click on with a switch. A fire, you must build and there are two schools as to how to do that: skill and gasoline.
Let me be clear: one should never, ever start a backyard fire with gasoline. I say this to the half of humanity that would not dream of doing it any other way.
“You smothered the fire.”
“I guess I did.”
“Now what are you going to do?”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“I’ll check the recycling for something easy to burn.”
“The recycling went out Tuesday.”
“Well, what do we need to get rid of?”
It is a question we keep asking ourselves.
The first thing that comes to mind is all the stuff that fills our mailbox that we can’t recycle.
- Our banks gleefully send us unrequested checks. They print our name and account number on them without the slightest concern for why that might be a problem, but then concern is the last thing one would expect from an invitation to incur debt.
- Our clinic blows a blizzard of paperwork into our mailbox every time we even think of them. The services they list are indecipherable, and the charges are inscrutable.
- Various solicitations bear the most personal of information that we never ever give out. Yet everyone has.
All of these things we shred and as a bonus, shredded paper makes for wonderful tinder.
So I head for the shredder, only to find it empty.
What to do?
What fills the bill of what do we need to get rid of?
In the file cabinet, I find a prime candidate.
My twenty year old divorce papers.
The folder is scuffed with age, and the binding is cracked and frayed, barely able to keep the yellowing papers intact. I don’t bother to open it because I have done that too many times over the years. What I do – is weigh the paper in my hand. The heft of it is not nearly what it once was.
“What have you got there?”
“Just some papers to restart the fire.”
“You should have burned them long ago.”
“Late is better than never.”