The rolled and plaited newspaper catches in three or four places as I move the match below it. The paper takes rapidly, flaring up into tall flames, moving quickly and soon burning up its fuel. The teepee of kindling atop it is bathed in light; starts emitting light itself as it, too, catches fire.
There’s a moment where it looks like the kindling will burn out without having spread its flames to the logs. The corners blacken, but the bodies of the chunks of wood remain unscorched. The flickering dies down, crawls back into the base of the fireplace, and then with a final puff of smoke the last flame is gone. It glows with heat but is not alight.
So I get in close and gently but firmly blow steadily into the embers. A bit more glow, but that subsides. Again… and again it subsides. On the third breath it bursts into large, steady flames.
The fire crawls over the surface of the wood and deep into the logs’ hearts. It continues, providing heat and dancing beauty, and we bask in front of it.
I guess matches might have been making it easy for myself. I could have tried using a flint and steel. Or two sticks. There is still something primal about watching the elegant destruction; charming about seeing the flames lick and spin. I think playing with fire is such an accurate description. Like an uncontrollable animal you can try to tame it, but must still just prod and watch, blow and be curious about what happens. It’s an exploration, and brings joy from its simply artistry.
We are probably programmed to enjoy this by cultural memory, for what it represents: warmth and safety and coming food.
Creativity is a spark. It can be excruciating when we’re rubbing two rocks together and getting nothing. And it can be intensely satisfying when the flame catches and a new idea sweeps around the world. – Jonah Lehrer
Ease of play: 6/10
Resemblance to play: 4/10
Enjoyability: Medium (but steady…)
Potential frequency of play: High