I want a bonfire.

I’m used to having them; we’ve had one every year since I can remember. And even though the last year and a half has been unlike any in my lifetime, I want things to be like they’ve always been.

I live on the edge of the woods, and all during the record heat of this summer and last, I’ve been watching firefighters in yellow shirts and hardhats running past, working 16-hour days to put out the flames in the land behind my house. I can see they’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and underpaid. They end their shifts sooty and aching from doing heroes’ work with not enough resources. I can see they’re at the end of their rope.

But I want a bonfire. There’s no law that says I can’t. It’s my right if I want to have one.

Of course I know that bonfires spread like lightning, often to other homes and neighborhoods. I know some places are so vulnerable they can’t be fireproofed at all, and it might make sense for all of us to do whatever we can to make everyone safer. But if those firefighters ask me to take simple precautions like trimming back my trees or removing flammable ground fuels from my property, they’re asking me to surrender my freedoms.

In fact, I’m not sure they even know the best way for me to protect my house. I might try turning my air conditioning up all the way. Or pouring freon over my roof. Anything but deciding not to pile a stack of kindling and strike a match.

Because I want a bonfire.

And the scientists who say it’s due to climate change or people encroaching on the urban-wildland interface are probably all making money off the fear they’re spreading in the media.

And the media? They never talk about how wildfires are inevitable and that some places are always going to burn no matter what we do. In fact, if we just let fires burn we’ll eventually build up a natural defense against them. I hear even some of the firefighters agree with me.

Of course, if I build a bonfire and it gets out of control and threatens my house, or a like-minded neighbor’s bonfire jumps my fence, I expect those firefighters to drop whatever they’re doing and risk their lives to save my place first. And I’ll ask you to pray for my house, because it’s all in the Lord’s hands.

Anyway. I want a bonfire.