Flames. The ones that dance in a burning fire, not the flames of love that dance in your heart, although sometimes the two may seem like one.
Nothing brings back memories faster than a scent, and probably the most primal is the one that wafts through the air from a fire. We know instinctively that somewhere, wherever that smell is coming from, there are flames dancing, and maybe even a few friends huddled around it, enjoying the moment.
In the fall, it was a ritual for many of us to pick a warm day without a breeze. You hope there wasn’t any rain for a few days before so that everything was nice and dry on the ground. That day was spent raking up all the leaves in the yard into a huge pile. If you were a kid, or were a kid at heart, the day was filled with laughter and joy as you kept jumping into this soft pile of leaves, throwing them up into the sky and laughing as they tickled you on their way back down to the ground. Then you would rake them back up again. And this little jump, toss, rake, jump, toss, rake, would continue for quite a while.
As evening came, it was time for the fire to start, for the leaves to become a bonfire. We’d toast marshmallows over the flames as they danced. The smell is one of a kind, and will bring any adult who experienced this right back to their childhood on those autumn days. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love this smell.
Maybe even more primal is a wood fire. Sitting around a campfire in the summer, a bonfire in the fall or spring, or a cozy fire in the fireplace, warming a family in the winter, especially on Christmas.
We gather around it, stare at the flames. We stir the coals with sticks, and watch the flames dance, change color from reds to oranges, sometimes even blues. We are mesmerized by flames. And each fire we get to sit by seems to reconnect us with our past. The smell of the wood, the hypnotic movements of the flames, they transport us to days gone by.
Laughter, family, friendship, food, fun. All there, dancing merrily in the flames.