I impulse-bought this ingenious little stove the size of a Nalgene bottle directly after reading a New York Times article on the young inventor dudes who passed them out during the Manhattan blackouts following Hurricane Sandy back in 2012. It uses any ol’ post-apocalyptic flammable debris as fuel — leaves, scraps of paper, wood-building shards, coffee stirsticks — to make heat, boil water and re-charge communication devices through a USB port.
At first, the tiny fire is underwhelming, barely a flame. But the more you tend it with more bits, the hotter and hungrier it gets until that heat energy kicks in a fan, and soon you’ve got a turbo flame that resembles a gas stove on high. That’s when you can plug in and connect up to the rest of the world. From litter!
But what does that have to do with recharging one’s long-dormant, dead-dog creative abilities? Unlike the prepper/survivalist crowd that loves this kind of gizmo, most of us don’t have the foresight to equip ourselves with a source of heat (and life) in case of emergency. We might not even notice that we’re in a cold, dark spot and could use some serious assistance.
At first we just put on a sweater like our mothers taught us, because we’re tough. When we start seeing our breath we may put on thicker socks, maybe a toque, even long underwear. Next thing you know we’re barely padding around our places in those balloon-y sleeping-bag slippers and a slanket, and stealing the neighbours’ cats just to keep our laps warm. We are not going anywhere.
But at some point we have to give in to a little outside help. This can feel incredibly risky when we’re used to doing it all on our own. But desperate times call for desperate measures so we throw a few dubious bits together and keep at it ‘til we see a spark. Then — and this is the risky part — we put it out there for others to see, tiny and weak as it is. Inevitably we get some heat back: words of encouragement, some effect. We see that even our small little fire can create heat for others, and we can almost feel our endorphins kicking in. The fan is in gear and soon we are generating some serious creative heat through a fiery feedback loop. This is the time to gather around that ring of fire with those who love and support us. Maybe even start a singalong.
Sometimes the heat is too much and we will have to back off for a while, regroup, but it’s good to know that the creative heat-generator is there when we’re in a very dark place.
Once you're ready to shed all those protective layers you'll find you're in pretty good shape.