As many around the U.S. are experiencing a “bomb cyclone” in the days before Christmas, I thought this photo from the spring was appropriate, when the mountains got a fresh coat of snow.

Sometimes just looking at a photo like that makes me appreciate my wood stove. I have no emotional attachment to fossil fuels in machinery. Mostly, I’m glad to see them disappearing because they smell so bad. When I drive back to the cities these days, I am keenly aware of the fumes pervading the highways. But a future without cozy fires seems a little bleak to me.

Also, as a source of heat, woodstoves really excel at warming the bones and banishing the drafts. Forced hot air is rather stale in comparison. Not to mention that I love collecting all the burnable waste in the house as fuel. Tissue paper, meat scraps, bacon grease, milk cartons, all get sent to the stove to burn bright, then be returned as ash to the yard.

I grew up in the Unitarian faith, and most of their churches have a candle lighting ceremony on Christmas Eve, a living celebration of the proverb, “It is better to light a candle that to curse the darkness.” I’ll be attending one tonight and it’s always a wonderful service. Everyone gets a small candle as they enter. At the end of the service the lights are extinguished and the minister lights a candle from the main chalice. That flame is passed from seat to seat as everyone quietly sings “Silent Night”. It’s a ritual that reminds us of connection to each other, to nature, and tugs sadness out of corners and sets it free.

Fire is part of our collective consciousness, and I hope we don’t lose our connection to it.