First Fire of Fall--Fire is so important to human life that many creation myths include the story of how man first learned about fire. In some stories, fire was a wonderful gift, but in many stories, fire had to be stolen through trickery from someone stronger or wiser. One of the best know fire myths includes both of these ideas. According to the ancient Greeks, one of the Titans, Prometheus, stole fire from the other gods and then gave it as a gift to man.
Fire was so important to humans because until recently, it was the only way people had of lighting their homes, cooking their food, and staying warm. Fire was also a very valuable thing that had to be watched over. If a family’s fire went out, someone would have to walk to the next home or village to get a live coal and bring it back to restart the fire. People went to great efforts to keep the fire going. They devised ways of covering a fire so that it would burn slowly all night until they awoke to add more wood. Sparks could be made using flint and steel or by rapidly rubbing certain kinds of wood together, but it took a lot of skill. Fire is also dangerous and destructive. A single wildfire can destroy hundreds of homes and thousands of acres of wildlife habitat.
Electric lights, stoves, and furnaces are much safer than candles and cooking fires. We just turn a switch instead of chopping and hauling wood, and we don’t have to put up with houses full of
smoke. When we do need to light a fire, it’s easy. We light a match or use a lighter. We turn the knob on the gas range or flip a switch next to our gas fireplace. Fire is much easier and much less
important to us than it was to our ancestors. But people are still fascinated with fire.
Everyone seems to naturally gather around a fire in the fireplace or a bonfire outside. Even though the fire just keeps burning, we’re fascinated by the ever changing flames. When my son was little, he complained because he always had to go to bed and never got to stay up late enough to “see the end of the fire.” My sister has a videotape of a flickering fire that she can play on her TV so that she can enjoy the sight and sounds or a fire without actually having to light one.
Mrs. Muddle is never careless when it comes to fire safety. But when the weather turns cold, she loves to gather up a blanket, a book, a cup of cocoa, a bowl of popcorn, and a few
good friends, and sit in front of the fire.