I wander through the forest, gathering kindling in my arms, with slugs and slimy lichens.

The rain in the night has soaked the ash bed of my fire pit and all the wood is damp. I lay out a grid of thicker branches onto the bed and using very small branches, I build a structure on top of the grid, layering with fragments of paper, birch bark, cardboard, then thinner branches on top. I use a candle to keep the flame lit. Smoke blows into my face. The fire ignites, then burns out. More paper. The fire is working its way through the structure, catching. Smaller branches fall to the bottom and make coals. The fire is lit.  I make sure the grill is sitting on its four rocks, so it doesn’t tip when the fire burns down. Within minutes I hear the coffee pot roar to  life.

My clothes and hair take on a smokey fragrance that children always notice. I chop vegetables beside the daisies,  watching the smoke float off into the trees, noticing the direction of the travelling clouds…All my pots are black and the handle has melted on my Italian percolator. When my meal is done, I feel  content, like I have earned it. I can taste the wood and the fire, and something else that is deeper. Nothing costs in this method but the act of my own labour. All that I need is offered. But I don’t want rain…

As I go between two technologies I notice how I change for each one.

With the touch of a match, a liquid gas that can not be seen, hisses like a snake, and ignites into cold blue flames.  It reminds me of airplane fuselages and runway lights. There’s something magical about it, but I’m always aware of its capacity to blow up.

 

It is so easy, effortless. The rains are streaming down the windows and I’m warm and dry. The food gets cooked.

I ignore the signs of the tank running empty: the smell of gas, the flame lighting lower, the humidity on the tank. I somehow believe that, because it’s modern, it must be endless, like water out of a tap. I’ve run out five times now. Once I ran out in the late winter and it took two weeks for the tank to come.

I feel like I’m giving in when I buy another tank. They sit side by side on the north wall of the cabin. The principal is that when one runs out, it will switch to the second one. But this is never set in motion, as I only buy one at a time. Part of me resents their intrusion. They look like aliens.

How can liquid be gas? Refined crude oil and natural gas, condensed liquid gas…. Sublimation: the transition of substance from solid to gas without passing through liquid phase. The amount of industry that goes into the making of it seems incredible: metal towers drilling miles into the earth’s shale, silver pipelines snaking across the land, ships carrying huge white thermoses across the sea,  and the white refinery towers that sit like giant golf balls, so far away from the forest around me. 

The gods of propane