How to Keep a Fire Alight


A few years ago, my niece and I spent a summer season working as wardens at a holiday campsite. Unbeknownst to the owner of the campsite who employed us, we were both useless at lighting fires. We had to become experts pretty quickly, as we relied on our campfire for our meals and hot drinks, and we often had to light our guests’ fires for them. In no time at all I could throw a few sticks together any old how, strike a match, and get a roaring fire going with very little effort.

I already knew that in order for a fire to ignite, fuel, oxygen and heat are required, but I learnt something new that summer – in order to ensure the fire succeeds, there is a fourth, labour-saving ingredient you can use:

utter faith in the ability of the flame to spread.



A Glimmer of Hope

When it arrived
it was no bigger than a fly;
a tiny hope like so many before
which had briefly glowed,
only to stutter and die.

Previously, I’d tried
to make the flickering fire grow,
mothering her, smothering her with my need
to steal her from the hellish end
that looked like her destiny

This time
trust walked by my side.
Believing she had the strength and desire
to heal herself, I breathed this certainty,
and she inhaled my faith.

 A glimmer of hope
radiated to become a shining light
which obliterated all darkness,
making her whole.





©Jane Paterson Basil

21 thoughts on “How to Keep a Fire Alight

            1. He was the one who offered to support her through recovery before he’d even met her. While I knew that it might be good for him to have someone to look after, I was also aware that it was an enormous act of generosity on his part. He genuinely wasn’t trying to get her into his bed., although when they got together he was afraid I’d think the worst.

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I used to be crap at lighting fires, but after a few days at the campsite, I had to go off for a day and perform an upsetting duty. My niece knew I’d be miserable when I returned, so she planned to have a special meal ready. It was raining, and although she was in a covered area, everything was wet. I got back to find her almost crying with disappointment. I swore that the next day we’d learn to light fires like experts. We did – we had to, to survive.

      I loved our lifestyle, and often miss it.

      Liked by 1 person

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