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I am the Spring Burner of my household.

In my family's household, perched in Ohio, home of bipolar and indecisive weather, we have a tradition called the Spring Burn, where the last remnants of winter firewood are lit during the fluctuations of warm and cold weather that April, May and sometimes June brought. All of the logs that are deemed “burnable” are stacked next to the fireplace, reminding us to dispatch of them whenever we may please. Years ago, when Papa had a normal-hour job, he would be in charge of the fire. But now, with his weird hours and little sleep, tradition would skip the also-working Big Brother to me, Sister, or, in our language: “Api.” Now being responsible for setting the remaining firewood ablaze, I did it my own way, not the slow, careful burns that Papa created.

See, I am more interested in what was left after the fire.

My brothers, being boys, enjoyed watching bright orange and yellow licks of fire dance around stacks of logs, occasionally throwing in a paper ball or two when Papa was not looking, or when I told them it was okay to, chuckling along as the thinly sliced trees became engulfed with flames. Since taking the role of the Spring Burner, I preferred to skip the fire, letting my brothers have fun in the annual Paper Ball Tossing Competition, and then sit down to watch the final embers and glowing coals that remained, alone, after everyone else had nodded to sleep and Mama and Papa had gone to bed and the household was silent. For hours and hours, I would stare at the coals, getting lucky with a pop of sparks from a knot in the wood sometimes, or a coal that I could poke into a blanket of glowing reddish-orange. I often found my chaotic thoughts slowing down and becoming clearer when I sat to watch the coals. It felt like all the cobwebs cluttering my mind shifted away. Like all the redundancies of the household were no longer redundant. I can sometimes imagine seeing my face, eyebrows knit together in thought, highlighted in the faint light of glowing coals and embers.

I am the Spring Burner of the household, and I don’t like watching fire engulf logs of wood in a fireplace. I like watching the coals and embers glow, long after the fire is gone.



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