I miss building huge bonfires, where, in the midst of 60 acres of Maine woods with good snow cover, we would set match to paper and twig, urging spark to flame, then fanning to a crescendo of conflagration. Stepping back to avoid singeing hair and nostrils, we’d observe flames consuming dead, heavy 4’ wet logs without losing momentum. These fires were big; too much for anybody paranoid about setting the forest aflame, but we lived in tune with nature enough to respect certain laws and boundaries. The process went on seasonally for years.

There is something about the contrast of icy skin rosy with sweat under layers of wool, the smell of woodsmoke and ash, flames shooting twenty feet in the air singeing tips of hemlock boughs, the crack and groan of expanding ice on the nearby lake, and the intense heat and raw energy of a confluence of elements in nature. It pushes everything else out; a cheating husband, an unexpected pregnancy, a friend’s betrayal, the fear of loss and change. There is nothing but action and vigilance and focus and presence, all desirable to me today as I ponder the ending of another year of life on this magnificent planet.

Today while riding my bike, I found myself building that bonfire, fanning and feeding it to a glorious blaze while tossing into its cavernous mouth each negative thought and impulse as it arose. In preparation for clearing a path for renewal in 2016, I smelled the woodsmoke, felt the heavy wool-lined rubber boots on my feet, wiped the sweat from my ash-streaked brow, and tromped out into the cold for more crackling brush. I was assured in the rhythm of slippery steps and a beating heart and heaving lungs that in nature abides the perpetual promise of renewal. And while most challenges I have faced down in six decades of life sneak in innocently enough, their transcendence roars out and through me like a bonfire. Or a lion. And 2015, at least for me, is going out just this way.

Perhaps 2016 will reveal unity rather than separation, as we collectively realize it is to this amazing earth we owe our life and breath. Maybe it will become clearer that working in harmony with nature and one another is the surest way to purge ourselves of the discomfort of disconnection. And this, dear reader, is my hope, as we step into the future together.




13 thoughts on “OUT LIKE A LION

    1. Haha, Karen – I could never forget what my body well remembers. I do miss Maine for its very wildness, but I stand happy not having the hardships of such a long, long winter. And I miss you all! Wishing you love and joy in the coming year. Thanks for taking time to sign up and comment directly to WordPress. I know it can be a bit of a hassle, that way. Love you

  1. I like your new photo gravatar, Bela.
    I like the idea of a funeral pyre, burning all of our nasty 2015 thoughts and problems, going up in a huge flame. I can imagine standing in the freezing cold of New England or other northern climates, wearing hat, gloves, scarf and coat, perspiring a bit but relieved, oh so relieved to put our year to “ashes.”
    In fact, that expression, “ashes to ashes” sounds like a sigh of finality, Bela. I am jealous of your bicycle ride but hopefully you will have a wonderful and productive year in terms of family, writing and friends. Love, Robin

    1. Robin, thank you so much! Your thoughts are always welcome here, and I love the metaphor you brought to the conversation of ‘ashes to ashes,’ for surely it is thus. All begins and ends on this earth as humble ash or soil … which many would do well to remember! Peace, love and contentment in your own 2016, Robin! ❤ Bela

  2. Though I have never been in Maine, I remember those bonfires from the winters of my childhood…we would be out sledding or snowmobiling in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, and have a big fire in a clearing somewhere to come back to and warm up…Of course, the purifying nature of the fire seems central to most cultures…

    Oh, but who does not love the idea of out like a lion? ‘Twas a wonderful year for me, and I look forward to the next, undoubtedly…and to more of your beautiful words, Bela. Happy New Year 🙂

    1. Haha, glad you like ‘out like a lion,’ though it’s far from original. Usually used for springtime, is it not? “In like a lamb, out like a lion?” The phrase just jumped into my head while riding my bike and mentally forming the ideas that became this piece …
      So good to see you here, my friend, and glad this brought back memories for you. I loved winter while I was in Maine – 18 years before that, I had none, and thought I’d never leave that kind of beauty. But the bones and blood got cold, and I left for another kind of ‘endless summer’ beauty, though we do have winter here on Hawaii Island. Wishing you all the very best in 2016, VL! Many blessings ❤

  3. My goodness you write so magnificently Bela, so bloody magnificently. Have you ever stretched your writing legs in a long walk, a perhaps semi-fictional traversing, across what seems such a rich and engaged life? H ❤

    1. Hariod, you are toooo kind! 😀 I have attempted longer pieces – I have a couple of unfinished book manuscripts from years ago – but honestly, I have my hands in so many things these days, I simply haven’t the patience. I guess if a subject really drew me in, I’d find the time to explore it through story, but I think my gift in this life is capturing the panoramic view(point) and focusing it on the head of a pin, rather than the reverse 😉 Thank you many times over for your kind praise. It touches my heart ❤

  4. Bela, I envy your memories of huge bonfires in the cold winter woods. I have enjoyed them in the summers of Northern Ontario, where we sat in a wide circle of logs around the fire and shared stories, songs, and drinks. I was even able to visualize messages in the flames on one occasion, for a dear soul who kept me provided with (what was I drinking)? I seemed to need a glass in my hand for my insight to work, and she kept replacing my glass, until friends pulled me away. It was time to go, much to my client (of sorts)’s distress. But, your “purge ourselves of the discontent of disconnection” really rung a bell of memory. I had (not “have” which suggests continuation) ten thousand years, more or less, resisting disconnection with every ounce of effort I could muster It was a lost cost, or a series of lost causes. And, yet, now, I can look (or think of) the rivers of tears as having served me so very well that I send blessings to them. “Whatever it takes” Spirit keeps telling me. I even resisted his message; it sounded so clinical. Where was the passion? He suggested that I expressed enough of that stuff or both of us. And now you can, as I have finally been able to do, release past negativity into a vision that dissolves it all. May 2016 bring you love and joy.

    1. Yes, Jean, doubtless we’ve all had many, many years of resistance. It’s why we’re so curious in this life, so ready! I do feel for those who aren’t, don’t want to be, and close their minds to the wonder of it all. May many blessings and well wishes be yours in 2016!

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