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Topic: Not just for beginners
Message: Posted by: funsway (Mar 7, 2019 08:53AM)
The Flame

The old man whispered, “The crafting of a magic routine has a lot in common with building a fire. The elements are practiced science to you, but the results can be magic to others who share this gift. Yet, the memory of the magic of a campfire may well outlive any trick you do with coins and balls. How do you change that? How do you kindle the magic waiting in the heart of a stranger?” Then he looked at me. “What is the magic you pretend at?”

Perhaps I should back up a bit as to setting and venue and props …

It was tradition to gather at Grannie’s for an early supper on Sunday afternoons. This was followed by custom of her taking the young’ns to the kitchen for essential instructions in “cleaning up,” and “putting things proper away, while the rest repaired to the sweeping front porch for “the doin’.” Yup, every person had do take a turn at the corner rug and do something: sing a song, play a guitar or flute, do a magic trick, tell a story, juggle, whatever. It was rare pleasure to have Uncle Hugo down from his cabin. This meant more magic performance than usual. Some of us had a well-practiced new trick prepared in case he came. He was tolerant of nervous mistakes and generous with applause and supporting words. But he would not abide the exposure of secret or method though failing to prepare.

“The linchpin is ‘inexplicable’,” he would say. “If we know how it was done then it wasn’t magic – just poor science.” Another time he had whispered kindly, “Sure we might be trying to guess at the secret, lad. Your task is to have us so trapped in awe and wonder that we don't care to.” We didn’t listen just out of respect for his age or who he had been. There was just a way about him that was magical all of the time. When he rose everyone fell silent. When he moved all eyes followed in anticipation of something important to occur. When he spoke we had an expectation of learning something useful. I read once that wherever a wizard walks flowers will grown in later. It was like that with him on our porch.

My cousin Sean had just finished performing three different magic effects. Each was astonishing, but the impact was marred a bit by the fumbled delay and transition from one to the next. “Better than,” I offered. Everyone smiled since they knew I had taught him the one with the egg. Hugo nodded in agreement and we took that as a cue to listen close. The words “harken and heed” leapt into my mind since I was studying a lot of Medieval history.

“Time we talked about building a magic routine,” he smiled. His extended hand gestured openly towards Sean, then gracefully folded into a fist as a blossom might curl at sunset. “Look to the fire, “ he rumbled. We all looked at his hand in anticipation of some miracle to be revealed. “No,” he laughed. “Out there to the fire pit where we will soon go for marshmallows and cider.” His hand turned to claim his cane and a pathway to the porch railing appeared though the chairs. Whoever sat on the railing had a height advantage over those seated on the folding chairs and benches. This short journey also allowed those not interested in learning of magic to slip inside the house.

Jennie called out, “we will be setting up some pie and cake for later.” She had her own magic and didn’t need conjuring tips, but that’s another story. Hugo hung his cane over a tree branch to signal he was settled in.

“Fire is simple science – fuel and oxygen and a spark to begin the chemical reaction. The secret is how to control the kindling process, keep it going and make the experience enjoyable. What your audience sees is the dancing flame or smoldering embers. What they feel is warmth and joy and a connection to nature and childhood memories. What they remember is companionship with friends and as sense of awe and wonder. Your job, as tender of the fire, is to insure they do not remember the smoke or the primordial fear or current danger. One secret of a campfire gathering is trust.” Hugo paused a bit to allow each of use to recall pleasant fires of our past. Yes, and to recall a burn when we were less than careful or respectful. When we all returned our attention to our favorite uncle he was gone! No, he had just shifted a foot away, well aware that during that moment of prompted reverie he was invisible and knew where our focus would return. He held a split of log conjured from somewhere that he dropped with a loud thud. I watched it fall and still jumped with the sound, but not as high as Paul who was still nursing his sunburned neck. He continued.

“No one will remember how carefully you selected the chunks of pine and oak. Did you find some inner bark or use newspaper? Was the kindling split or found dry branches? Where did you learn the skills of stacking the elements into a tower to await your practiced flint and steel?” He paused once more but none of us looked away in thought. “No one will care!” he shouted. “Unless you are providing a Boy Scout Merit Badge they did not come to appreciate your fire-building skills. They came for an escape from their humdrum job or failing marriage or all-ready-late homework. They will remember the magic of the evening if you get out of the way and allow it to happen. Do you want flame or fame? When they go home tonight what story do you want them to tell to friends and family?” He pointed to Sean with a smile.

My younger cousin got into magic partially to overcome his shyness. He started to speak, glanced around, and then rose to his feet. He announced confidently, “I was going to show everyone my new axe and folding saw. I have a lot of fires to build in the years ahead. Instead, I now pan on listening to the stories you’all tell around the campfire. Maybe next Sunday I can do some magic instead of tricks.” Then he turned to Hugo and added, “I’ll bet your place could use some clearing of brush away for the cabin – fire danger going up this summer. Maybe we could chat a bit about a couple of impossible things.”

Jennie sang out and we all headed in for pie – leaving just the two friends to challenge the world.
Message: Posted by: A Magic Cafe User (Mar 20, 2019 04:31PM)
Wow..... :wow:
Message: Posted by: Senor Fabuloso (Mar 21, 2019 03:51AM)
Love how your words incorporate the survival skill, of fire making Funsway :) Can I use it in my up and coming book, with credit of course?
Message: Posted by: funsway (Mar 21, 2019 07:28AM)
Glad it works for you. No problem for a book on magic or other.