Fire, Fire: How does it work?

Eli did the majority of the work to build the fire at the cabin tonight. The fire had come alive after we got it started with a spark. "What happens to make fire?" he asked. I should have known he was going to ask, it was bound to come, and of course as the father i should know answers to questions like his. But "how does fire work" is outside my wheelhouse. Fundamentally, i know that there's a chemical reaction, but exactly what happens and how it works was beyond me. So, of course, when Eli asked, i just made some stuff up. Something about heat and the dry wood having molecules and some other stuff. Combustion, elements, heat-creating-heat, energy getting released from the moleculs and some other gibberish that almost/kind of made sense. He bought it. Kind of. "When i get home i'm going to check Wikipedia" he said,as he worked on the marshmallow at the end of the stick.  

As far as i know, the only energy that really got released was imagination and curiousity. Eli was away from the screens, away from the games that he's long since decoded to the point where he's always winning. He was in a place that he didn't fully understand, couldn't game, and it made him wonder. He was asking questions that were tough to answer, but he wasn't giving up.

Thats what nature always does for me, and i was glad to see i've passed on a little curiousity to the next generation. I get energized by learning, and evidently so does he. Nature makes us better. By sparking good questions, by helping us get outside our normal routines, by reminding us we're part of a larger scheme, we get revitalized bit by bit, question by question, spark by spark. 

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