Birthday Bon Fire

Building my bon fire with the unfinished second Rapunzel Chair

Fires have always been like sculptures to me.  I can’t leave them alone, but am constantly moving the wood around as it burns and the structure of the fire shifts.

When I start the fires in our wood stoves it’s the same.  I guess that’s why we say “building” a fire.

Yesterday I got to work building a bon fire for my 60th birthday.

I did something I’d never done before, and invited nine friends including Jon to join me.  They didn’t all know each other, but everyone knew someone other than me.

I used the wood from the maple tree that fell in the yard two winters ago.  I had four split logs too big for the wood stoves and then pulled long branches from the pile that has been drying in the pasture since the tree came down.  The sheep and donkeys had long ago eaten the bark, and although the outside of the wood was wet from days of snow and rain, inside it was dry enough to snap in two.

I was nervous when it got close to the time that my friends would show up.  I’m better at one on one conversation then large groups.

But I wanted this.

I wanted to bring my friends together. I’d never had a “party” for myself before, but it was the same feeling that I had when Jon and I got married.  I wanted people there to witness it.  I wanted to share it.

It was meaningful to me, because I  wanted to bring together the people who are important to me in my life at this point.  And it made me think about who those people were.

I told everyone to bring only themselves and something to burn if they wanted.  I served hot cocao and chocolate chip cookies from a local baker.

The night before, as I lay in bed, I went through what I owned looking for the right thing to burn.  In my mind I went from room to room, visited my studio then “looked” through the barns.  That’s when I thought of the second Rapunzel Chair that I had started a few years ago.  I never finished it because it has tied with natural jute and after that winter our hay bales were tied with blue and orange plastic jute.

It would be perfect for the fire.

An unfinished piece of art.  A symbol of letting go of all the things I hadn’t done that I’d once wanted to up to this point in my life.  Letting go of the people from my past who no longer were a part of my life.   A way to think of starting again and what is important to me now.

The fire didn’t take off as expected.  But one friend showed up with birch bark that she had from a tip she’d taken to the Adirondacks years ago.

Sentiment and fuel, it got my fire going.

photo by Emily Gold


And even though I asked for nothing, I got some bubbly things. Prosecco, and cider, a little gold covered book with lined pages.   I got cookies, two old chairs to burn, packaged marshmallows for toasting and homemade marshmallows for tomorrows Cacao.

Jon wrote me a letter that he wanted to read at the bonfire.  But I asked him to read it to just me the night before.  We both cried when he did.  (He asked if he could share it on his blog and of course I said yes.)

All of my friends are women, except for Ian, our shearer (who is 22 years old and also a poet)  who happened to call the day before and I was glad to have there.  I never imagined he’d want to come,  want to hang around a fire with a bunch of middle-aged women.

But he and Jon sat on the edge of the circle, talking mostly to each other.  From what Jon told me,  they were both happy for the other to be there.

The fire burned for a couple of hours, and as it turned to ash, people began to leave.

I’m still not sure what to think of it all.  Except that it was just what I’d imagined, just what I wanted.  And from the text messages I got after, the other women seemed to enjoy it too.

I do love and  feel loved by this group of women I invited to join me.  Even the ones who couldn’t make it.  I felt that way before the fire.  But there was a part of me that thought that maybe no one would show up.  That they wouldn’t want to come.

Now I know for sure that is not true.

The second Rapunzel Chair in the fire.  Photo by Mandy

22 thoughts on “Birthday Bon Fire

  1. Happy Birthday Maria!! Letting go is
    key in life, as is cherishing what serves
    you well now. What a great way to
    celebrate! Keep growing in your art,
    your friendships, and your love of nature.
    Good stuff…

  2. Happy 60th, Maria! What a wonderful way to celebrate. With you in mind I picked a card for you from my Animal Reflections Healing Oracle deck as the animal guide going into your 6th decade. It is Snake! And what is so interesting about this is when I turned 60 six months ago I did the same for myself and got Snake also. And I’m reminded of the Snake Goddess doll you made years ago that I bought from you. Pretty special.

      1. Yes. Snake was pivotal in helping me give voice to the fact I’d been touched inappropriately as a child. I’d never told anyone until I was 55. But a perished mama snake and her four babies I found off the end of my driveway many years ago helped me uncover the deeper meaning of my having found them. I’m forever grateful to snake.

  3. Happy Birthday, Maria. My favorite blessing is, “May you be well, happy, and peaceful.” But everyone can see that you already are those things. Namaste.

  4. So happy for your growth in relationship with other women. I know the feeling of wondering who will want to come. You have obviously built special connections. I wonder if they are your tribe. A true gift for your 60th birthday. Entering middle age is a wonderful transition.
    Happy birthday Maria!

  5. Happiest of Birthdays, Maria! What a wonderful way to celebrate, the letting go and the starting anew. May this new year bring you much joy.

  6. Dear Maria,
    A belated Happy Birthday. That’s a terrific way to celebrate a special birthday with Jon, good friends and a great bon fire. You are a very accomplished and talented woman, you can be proud of yourself. I live your Spirit of Owl quilt, great colors and design.

  7. I love this rite for your birthday Maria. It seems like you gave everyone an opportunity to take part in your birthday and also make it personally meaningful.
    And happy birthday to you

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