Saturday, February 19, 2005

A Candle in the Night

The small lick of flame coming from a candle so often illicits emotions of a peace, safety, and calm. In college I started to burn candles in my room in order to spruce up the smell of my apartment. My nose enjoyed the vanilla, pine, apricot, and other sweet smells much more than the empty vacuum of smell that was there before. As time progressed, and I met Kristin, the candles also became a sign of the closeness of our relationship. Many a night I would sit down to read, light a candle, and wait for Kristin to come over. Once she got there, we'd just sit and talk in the candlelight, simply enjoying each other's company. Unlike many couples, we didn't have to go do something to have fun--we were comfortable and enjoyed the peace of each other's prescence.

Living at home with my parents, my penchant for candle burning has come under attack from my mother. She doesn't like the fact that there is a force of destruction, no matter its size, in our house. She's afraid that I'll burn down the house or start something on fire, but I always keep an attentive eye on the candles I burn, as I so much enjoy being by them as their flames ficker and their smells waft upward into the air.

I do not know if it was sheer boredom or an overdose of curiosity, but I found myself examining the small, globe shaped, snowman candle I've been burning in my room at night. It was a gift from my grandma and I enjoy the glimmer of the snowmen as the flame inside illuminates the scene painted on the outside. The candle is getting close to the end of its life and I probably only have a few more nights of burning it left.

As the flame was burning, I closely examined the inside of the candle, the well that had formed as the wick had worked its way downward. The outsides of this well told of the waxy history of the candle. Near the wick the wax was liquid and still in flux--it's history yet to be cemented, but at the top of the candle, there would not be enough heat from the flame to ever change the streaky beads of wax that had formed.

The shapes and style of the wax buildup can tell you a lot about the flame that burned its way down. When the flame was strong, the well extended very far outward and some of the blue of the outer shell had melted into the off-white of the inner well. The odd permutations of blue that were formed were both beautiful and ugly, depending upon how the flame had merged the white wax with the candle's coating. As the well progressed downward, the outer walls moved futher inward, denoting that the flame was less powerful as it worked its way down. It no longer possessed the power melt the wax all the way out to the exterior of the candle.

As I looked closer at the walls near the flame that was burning, I saw that it had widened at one point. For some reason the flame grew stronger for a period before it contracted to the size that it currently burned at. Who knows if it'll flame up like that again before the wick runs out and the candle is snuffed out permanently, it's course having been run.

Each candle burns in its own style and creates its own unique path from the top of the wick to the bottom. Once a candle has burned to the bottom, it cannot be burned again. It has finished what it was meant to do--bring a light to the small pocket of darkness it illuminated.

A candle does not need to burn bright to be beautiful. Some candles flare up into a blazing bright light while others burn slowly and dimly. All are beautiful, however, if you only take the chance to notice them.

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