Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fire In The Sky

I don't have a lot of time this morning, so I thought I'd just share a moment that made the adults laugh yesterday, being fully aware that it might be one of those cases in which you "had to be there."

The 5's class was monkeying around with a magnifying glass and decided to see if we could use it to start a fire. We cleared out a little circle on the ground and the kids brought a fistful of dried out grass. I doubted it would work. We tried it a couple times in the middle of summer and only after a long time finally got a wisp or two of smoke. In Seattle during this time of year, and at this time of day, the sun is even farther away, but it's still an adventure to try.

Four or 5 kids eagerly ran up to the cast iron water pump to retrieve buckets of water -- just in case. They stood around me in a tight circle, water slopping from their pails, perpetually needing to be reminded to not block the sun. As we waited, I told the story of how last year our concave mirrors had almost set Paddington Bear on fire. That lead to us ditching the magnifier and switching over to the mirror. I still had little hope: in the bear-fire case the sun had been intensified by angling though a window, in a very still controlled circumstance, and we still only got smoke.

The kids eventually figured out how to stand out of the sun, but those buckets of water were challenging, every second was fraught with the potential of having the "fire" prematurely doused. Several of our fire brigade just couldn't help themselves, too eager, finally just dumping their water on the ground, often very close to the dried grass.

"Hey!" I said, "If you get the grass wet we won't be able to make a fire. You can't make fire on water."

Konghai's dad Aaron sang, "Smoke on the water."

And without missing a beat, Ben finished, "Fire in the sky."

Later, we finally got a little smoke, scorching a wood chip, but it took two adults holding everything perfectly still for several minutes. I guess I'd been wrong about the intensity of that fire in the sky, as well as of our working knowledge of classic rock lyrics.

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