Definitely NOT “Puff the Magic Dragon”
Engrossed in news of the California wildfires, I mourned the loss of so much beauty in my childhood stomping grounds.
Memories flooded my mind and thinking about the fires, its causes, and its fierceness, my imagination slid into overdrive … and into the fire … firedrakes that is … dragons!
FIREDRAKE (-drākʹ; Mythology) n. fire-breathing dragon.
I drifted back to my youth, when reading books meant sitting outside, surrounded by timeworn trees. California Black Oak, fir trees, and dense Manzanita brush on the hills in front of me, concealed fairies and leprechauns, princes and princesses, castles, dungeons, mermaids, all sorts of strange creatures from active imaginations. Always with a happy ending.
Absorbed in the pages of Grimms’ Fairy Tales with the maiden-eating dragon (“The Two Brothers,” 1812), and Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical poem that gave us a fierce Jabberwock, with "jaws that bite," "claws that catch," and "eyes of flame" (Through the Looking-Glass, 1871), my heart raced as I envisioned dangerous denizens and dragons.
The epic poem of Beowulf, who defeated the fire breathing dragon, appeared in my mind as I watched a newsclip of streaming flames. Wildfires are our modern day dragons and firefighters are our brave warriors who slay them.
|Clearlake, CA 08/03/15; Josh Edelson|
With the largest wildfire barely fifty miles northeast of me … it is a daily prayer that our warriors are safe and they save many damsels and lords from harm, while snuffing the flames of the mighty firedrakes.
As adults (I was going to write “grown-ups,” but some of us have opted not to make that transition), we now know every story doesn’t enjoy a happy ending. However, every villain has a weakness …
Meet Beowulf - who wrote what is possibly the oldest long poem in Old English, complete with dragon-slaying.
Beowulf excerpts in modern English (sort of) from the Poetry Foundation …
Then Beowulf came as king this broad
realm to wield; and he ruled it well
fifty winters, a wise old prince,
warding his land, until One began
in the dark of night, a Dragon, to rage …
THEN the baleful fiend its fire belched out,
and bright homes burned. The blaze stood high
all landsfolk frighting. No living thing
would that loathly one leave as aloft it flew. …
The hoard-guard was heartened; high heaved his breast
once more; and by peril was pressed again,
enfolded in flames, the folk-commander! …
Now, great in deeds,
atheling steadfast, with all thy strength
shield thy life! I will stand to help thee.”
At the words the worm came once again,
murderous monster mad with rage,
with fire-billows flaming, its foes to seek,
the hated men. …
At last the king
wielded his wits again, war-knife drew,
a biting blade by his breastplate hanging,
and the Weders’-helm smote that worm asunder,
felled the foe, flung forth its life.
So had they killed it, kinsmen both,
athelings twain: thus an earl should be
in danger’s day! …
|Lower Lake, CA 07/31/15; Jeff Chiu|
Thought for the day: Fire cannot thrive without oxygen, so – everyone draw in a deeeeeeep breath … hold it as long as you can – and maybe we can help suffocate wildfires across the nation, and squelch the blasphemous flames of the firedrakes.
I know … wishful thinking. But humor helps to lighten the load on the darkest of days. If I’ve brought a smile to your heart for the pure silliness of it, and a moment of thought for our warriors* who battle each day with valor, my work for the day is done …
*Thank you Cousin Erin! Lifelong/career firefighter.