Until now, smoke has conjured up notions of both bodily and environmental harm. The suffocating smell coating everything its spidery tendrils manage to grasp ahold of, only relinquishing its ownership after multiple washes in the washing machine or shower.
My sentiments have recently adapted to my current reality. Every night, against the soft black backdrop of sky, pipes and chimneys dot the horizon. They emerge from gers and wooden houses that emit a slight glow, indicating the presence of multiple bodies inside. Rusted old boxes shoved full of wood and coal exhale through their narrow tunnels of metal or brick, allowing a gracious path for the puffs of smoke created.
Once released, the smoke slowly twirls about, encircling itself. The malleable form offers itself to the elements, letting the wind and snow direct its short journey. Its particles begin to separate, drifting apart from each other, disappearing amidst a smattering of stars overhead.
Smoke now connotes warmth. It creates comfort.
It signifies the presence of life.