My grandmother was a careful lady. As far as I know she had never been in a traffic accident, gone through a divorce, or suffered from identity theft. She was just as careful when we were burning leaves. She would make me wait until the wind was absolutely still. I would sit by the pile watching the weather and waiting for the calm of late afternoon. When the wind would stop I'd go get my grandmother and she would always ask, "Is it as still as a sinner in church". She would get her old silver lighter and head out to the backyard.
Grandma always let me light the first leaves. She would break out an antique Zippo lighter and hand it to me. I would struggle with it as I lit one corner of the pile. The sparks would fly like fireworks, the wick would ignite, and the leaves would succumb to the flames. Lighter fluid would seep from the lighter and leave my hands smelling like a used car part. With the scent of the fluid filling my head I would hand the lighter back to my grandmother and she would finish lighting the pile.
The flames roared as my grandmother made sure I kept a safe distance. Even from afar, the heat would embrace my young face. I would imagine that the fire was a distant sun and I was a distant planet. Here, in my own world, I could find the warmth and comfort of a familiar face and a familiar place.