|WILLOW'S MAGPIE No. 64|
The day the mountain caught fire, I took you out on to the verandah. Holding you tight, I showed you the smouldering flames and you laughed happily. Fire was kind; you had seen fires in the grate which kept you warm and gave you light; you had already seen the first fires lit in the garden, which baked apples and potatoes for you. Fires didn't frighten you then, fire was good, as fire had been for the first ancestors of modern man, who learnt to control it. Traces of fire had been found dating back to the earliest stone age, nearly 800.000 years ago.
You cried and struggled in my arms when I turned my back on the burning mountain, you wanted to watch the flames and the smoke rising into the yellowing skies; from time immemorial man has been fascinated by fire, you, at the beginning of your own life on earth found a deep well of primitive delight within you at the sight of the burning hillside.
The day would come when fire on the mountain would become a noble enemy to be watched closely, to be fought and mastered; when you would join your father and brothers in that dangerous task, when you would risk your life to keep your home and those you loved, safe. Your fascination with fire would never cease, you would learn to live with it, make it your willing servant, but you would also learn not to trust it.