Fire, Fire, My Heart, My Heart

Lately I’ve been smelling smoke. My heart is tamped down, the fire banked, but the melody lingers on. Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice” (1920) comes to mind:

Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Our woods are burning near Canada. Earlier this year, late July, the smell of smoke from a huge swatch of Ontario on fire drifted over the big lake Superior and settled into my loft. There were no flames visible, yet we were burning.

In our Saint Paul neighborhood, I am developing a modest reputation as the “tree lady.” Summer bulletins about watering trees–slow flow in drought once a week–contributes to put leaves over my head. Yesterday in a yoga session, I mentioned tree watering again, and one of us said, “I called Target to tell them their new trees planted along Hamline Avenue are dying. Target was very concerned.” Slow hose, an hour a week until moisture once again falls from the sky. We have just completed the driest September since the 1880s.

Floods or droughts of Biblical proportions. The Senate in the relative absence of the House passed a bill recently to keep the U.S. government operating (Good of them, no?). A big part of the Federal Emergency Management allocation were funds for rebuilding New Hampshire and Vermont from their recent floods. Should we also mention a Texas fire that recently burned out over 1000 homes?

Frost’s poem predicts death by fire which rhymes with desire. Or hate which does not rhyme with ice but shares its chill. There are Dantean undertones. Last evening two houses down, the young couple sat outside around a campfire (in the city?) with flames sending sparks spiraling toward their roof. I smelled the smoke and from various windows, caught sight of the leaping flames. Finally my heart took fire. Opening the front door quietly, I softly tread the few yards and turned into their driveway. The young gent stood at the outdoor spigot with a watering can. “I’ve been keeping the grass around the fire wet,” he assured me. I urged caution, I mentioned illegal burning in the city proper. I called myself a “sorry nudge.”

We need songsters of Movement capacity to set us on fire for righting climate Earth.

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