how to make a fireball

Or “a sudden fire,” as my older son calls it, as in, Hey guys, let’s go make a sudden fire.


1. Beg your mom for candles. When she says no—candles are expensive and she has hers for a reason: to enjoy them—keep begging. Point out that the fat red one from the thrift store, the one with the feeble flame, is really pathetic. Please? Pretty please can I have it? When she finally says, “Okay, whatever, take it,” snatch it from its black, three-legged stand and race out the door before she can change her mind.

2. Steal an old metal flower pot from the tool shed (don’t bother to ask Mom for permission to use it). Using a piece of rebar and a sledgehammer, punch holes about an inch from the top on either side of the pot. String a study wire or old wire pole through the holes. Put the wax in the pot.

3. Build a fire down in the field, far from the house and other outbuildings.

4. Place sawhorses on either side of the fire and dangle the pot of wax between them.

5. Fashion a long pole by attaching two poles together. Hook an old metal soup can to one end. Get a big jug of water and set it beside the pole.

6. Bring the melted wax to a rolling boil. When it starts to burn on top, yell at everyone to come outside immediately. Make sure Mom has her camera.

7. Hold the long pole steady while Dad fills the tin can with water from the jug.

8. Creep toward the fire, staying low and yelling at everyone to get back.

9. Pour the water into the kettle of wax.

10. Whoop and holler as a column of fire roars out of the kettle, shooting towards the sky and billowing into a mushroom cloud, its wall of heat flashing past. From the corner of your eye, notice the traumatized sheep and chickens bolting away.

11. Wonder if the neighbors are watching. Hope no one calls the fire department.

12. Attempt a second fireball by dumping in more water, but, considering there’s hardly any wax left, don’t be disappointed when it only sputters.

This same time, years previous: constant motion, when cars dance, cranberry crumble bars, the quotidian (1.2.12), classic cranberry sauce, of an evening and a morning, loose ends, baguettes, sweet and spicy popcorn, and lentil sausage soup.      


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