Feng Shui has become a new trendy discipline that we look to for guidance in our homes both in how we decorate and how we live. Vastu Shastra is actually the predecessor to Feng Shui. Both are sciences that are a bridge between man and nature and offer guidelines to help set things in balance with the five elements of nature- Earth, Fire, Water, Space and Air.
The element of Fire is important in Nature for many reasons. For one thing, Ecosystems depend on fire to balance environments. I love going to different Nature Preserves in the Chicago area and observing first hand how this all works.
Throughout the history of civilization humans have used fire as a means of cooking and to obtain warmth. Most of us were taught in elementary school about the discovery of fire. I can still remember some of the pictures in both science and history books depicting this discovery. I can also remember thinking fire was a simple concept and what was all the hoopla about anyway?
In today’s world, we take fire for granted. Electric and gas utilities have allowed us to become “modernized”. An open fire in a wood burning stove or fireplace is rare. What was once considered commonplace, a roaring fire, today is typically meant for a time of relaxation.
I love fire and everything about it. I love the burst of colors, the flickering flames, the smell and the sound of fire. Some of my fondest memories include times around a roaring fire. Growing up, the fireplace was in our living room. No Christmas morning was complete without a fire burning to set the mood. At the beach (Sandbridge, VA) we used to have bonfires at night. To this day I think the best hot dogs come from roasting them on an open flame as the waves of the ocean crash nearby. Marshmallows? Who doesn’t love roasting them and making s’mores in the beautiful outdoors under a starlit sky? Now, all grown-up (supposedly…) my David and I enjoy sitting in front of fires both inside and outdoors. We have a small fire pit that we enjoy on cool fall evenings. A fire like this sets the mood for quiet contemplation for us both. What better way to spend time with someone you love than in quiet contemplation? And, early the next morning after an outdoor fire the smell of smoke still lingers. Talk about warm fuzzies!
My children grew up loving fire as well. In fact, all three of my children learned to love and respect fire and understood how to build a fire at very young ages while camping and enjoying the outdoors. Just ask any one of them and they will tell you potatoes cooked deep in the coals of an outdoor fire are the bomb. Bonfires at Hunt camp were and still are a family tradition as well. And, my son Ben even designed and built his own outdoor fire pit. In a recent post, Home Through The Eyes Of My Son, Ben said, “The fire pit always draws a crowd when friends are over but I can also sit there by myself for hours and feed my love of nature.”
One of my sisters, Mary Ann (along with her husband, Jim) even has an annual woodcutting tradition. All four daughters and their families along with close friends spend an entire weekend cutting wood for the coming fall and winter. Believe me, I have many times enjoyed the wood from this weekend work the McAden family does. Just last fall I happened to be in Roanoke for a few days. Mary Ann and I came home after a full day of visiting our mother at Richfield (Mom’s Alzheimer’s Facility) and what did we come home to? A fireplace full of wood readied for a beautiful fire greeted us and all we had to do was light a match! Jim was playing tennis or soccer, I can’t remember which but he had readied a fire for us. It was wonderful! What a loving gesture in this simple thing he had done for us! We were able to sit back, watch the fire roar to life and enjoy time together as sisters.
Architects, Designers and Decorators incorporate outdoor living spaces in most plans for their clients. There is no coincidence that homes of today include these outdoor living spaces with gorgeous stone fireplaces or fire pits. We silly humans have spent so many, many years removing ourselves from nature by way of advancing technology that we have forgotten what nature does for us. No electric or gas heat is going to give you the feel good vibes of watching a fire burn. It is no wonder we are now creating spaces to return to fire!
Clearly, the sight, sounds and smell of fire bring different images and memories to each of us. Just last weekend a colleague of David’s came over to our house to cut down a tree that was damaged in a summer storm. Marc Killips and his son cut the tree down and then cut the wood up to haul off for their own family fires. I have no doubt that Marc and his family will enjoy the fire more knowing the work they put into getting it. Talk about memory building! (By the way, more on Marc and his boys in an upcoming post, Actions Speak Louder Than Words.)
Why not begin to enjoy the benefits of fire for yourself? Just sitting in front of a fire can relax you in ways that are incredible. Fire brings people together, too. It is a great way to socialize! Use this fall and the coming winter as one more way to connect or reconnect with nature and begin to enjoy a roaring fire. I can almost guarantee that you will feel relaxed, restored and renewed. Nature has a way of doing that to us!
Enjoy the fire…
For a full album of beautiful examples of fireplaces and fire pits be sure to go to my Facebook Fanpage, livinginperfectharmony.