Sunday, April 21, 2019

40 Days of Ice and Fire - Conclusion

Today is Easter.  Happy Easter!

Hiking Good Friday evening
Last night, Catholics and other old-school churches celebrated Easter Vigil.  Instead of filing into church, everyone gathers outside by a big open fire.  As the evening darkens, the Paschal (Easter) Candle is lit from this fire, and leads the group into the church.  Once we are all inside, the flame is passed from the main candle to smaller candles, one person turning to the next, until the darkened church is filled with points of live flame and all the faces within are lit by candlelight.
It's a lovely, amazing ceremony.
And once again, as at all these services I've attended in my life, nobody caught anybody's hair on fire.  (People do tend to put out the candles after the initial sharing of the light, so as not to have to watch them during the following parts of the service.  The next thing that happens are 9 or so readings, starting from "In the Beginning" on up through Paul's Epistles, during which there is traditionally a lot of squirming and fidgeting from the youngest members of the congregation.)

Serviceberry blooming, dusk.
There are a lot of other New Fire traditions for the turning of the year. I can't help seeing connections even to ordinary burn piles; disposing of unwanted weeds and dead brush before it chokes or becomes a fire hazard against this year's plans.  Other celebrations of "freshness and renewal" include the Persian-derived Nowruz, with jumping over seven fires, feasts of specific treats, and household ceremonial displays throughout the old Persian empire.

(You can argue whether some New Fire traditions are older, or whether they are the same or different.  Aztec "new fires" involved human sacrifice, as did many of their ceremonial occasions... and probably some of the old European rites did too.  The spiritual process of sacrifice and rebirth is critically important (buried seed to plant, past intentions to present growth), but to illustrate it with murder seems barbaric.  It feels like progress on a humanitarian scale that we now celebrate it symbolically.
I do eat meat, and can't quibble about those who raise a Paschal or Passover lamb instead of eating something anonymous. But I shy away from decorating with blood, let alone killing a living person each year, or even driving away a living scapegoat.  There may be benefit to bringing communities together; but I appreciate the modern approach: remind us each individually to examine our own hearts, and to atone for our own mistakes by supporting others in solidarity... not just conveniently shift the guilt and sacrifice onto one or two token lives.)

I started this 40-day series intending to nudge myself to make more artwork. I still have loose images in my mind from the Firefighter 1 courses, and images I intend to create for the Art of Fire book expansion.  But that is not the next book our publisher wants to produce; and my extra time is going into a lot of sorting and preparation for our move, spring cleaning, and hopefully also training for wildfire season.

So this spring's 40 days have turned out to be more of a photo journal, watching winter recede from this fire-prone landscape, and tracking our own wanderings as we look for our next place to live.
This fire-related calling of mine is, unfortunately, not very specific about logistical details like where to house Ernie while I work all over the place.

I did deliver 40 images, but I don't feel finished.
So today, Easter, I'm resolved to work on a few more hand-drawn sketches and paintings, to see if I can capture some of the moments that have been resting in my head rather than on camera.

So far, this has turned into yet more sorting, as once again I search for the art materials I have been trying to locate for the last 6 weeks.  (I have the dark and mid-tone paper, want to draw on it with chalk pastels, and the box I bought last year is not obliging me by showing itself).

Finally tried it with fluorescent paper.
It is a very rough draft, but it is probably the best we are going to get for tonight.

The Scary Corner

P.S. May 5 - or technically May 6 as it's after midnight:
Burn 101 - Recruit Academy 19-04 learns Fire Science
This is the chalk drawing that I finally accomplished, after giving up and buying a new set of chalk pastels.

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