Faces light up when they see our fire. Visitors surge towards it when they come in the door. And I used to watch something soft settle on the children when they stretched out in front of it like contented cats.
We all now fight the dog for prime position!
There must be an innate need in us for this contact with the four elements we so expertly remove ourselves from these days, tidying our lives as we do, battering earth down under concrete, shutting ourselves away from air, frightening ourselves with the dangers of fire and water by histrionic health and safety regulations.
And that’s probably why we yearn for them. Probably why we’re fighting the dog. Why we all love bonfire night. Why we gravitate towards fountains in town centres where kids are desperate to play, why we like gardening and children like mud pies. And why we like to stand by the sea and sniff the air.
Deep within our psyche there’s a need for that contact with the earth, air, fire and water. And maybe, far from keeping kids sheltered away from them, we should be enabling them to have regular experiences with them, experiences which will teach them respect. Teach them to understand the power of water and fire; both their life giving and destructive properties; the essence of earth and air and why we need to take care of them in the way we live our lives.
Maybe next year as part of their education you can have a campfire by sea or river, out in the air with the earth beneath. A four-in-one experience.
Meanwhile this Christmas, take a brisk walk by our gushing streams or heaving winter sea, with chill on cheeks and mud on wellies and come home to watch candles instead of telly and see how everyone’s eyes sparkle.
Have a sparkly Christmas!