Components of Combustion

Components of combustion
What does it take to safely light things up?


com·bus·tion – kəmˈbəsCH(ə)n/
  1. an act or instance of burning
  2. a usually rapid chemical process (such as oxidation) that produces heat and usually light  ;  also : a slower oxidation (as in the body) 
  3. violent agitation – tumult

This summer’s wildfires—in California, across the west, in Europe, and even the arctic circle—have ignited needing only three components: air, fuel, and spark. They spread a visceral and primoridal fear as they destroy land, lives, and threaten the air we breathe. Yet they also bring life, unleashing the potency of serotinous cones that open in the heat.
It’s hard to imagine, but in a few months I might be grateful to curl up next to the contained heat of a wood fire: burning brightly but contained by hearth, dangerous carbon monoxide and other byproducts carried safely up the flue. This combustion is ancient and I am grateful to the inventions that make it safe.
I’m on a long drive right now, relying on the internal combustion of my car’s engine. Back in the day, when automobile engine’s were simpler, a balky engine could be diagnosed by checking the four fundamental components: air, fuel, compression, spark. All four were necessary for the smooth running of an engine which is really a series of small repetitive explosions safely contained by the strong metal of the engine block. Remarkabley, all four continue to be present in the right proportions for mile after mile. Small wonder!
And just a few week’s ago, I was in the desert heat at our Portals of Pleasure retreat, witnessing with wonder the process by which humans could combust, burn off the residue, ignite change—all while anchoring deeply, tethering themselves lest their heat rise too quickly.
Heat. Combustion. Potency. Big powers to play with this August. But so much potency too.
Looking forward to hearing what Alex and Zed are firing up this month.

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