Photo taken by Pandanus Tree on Pandanus Prairie land
I have only met a few people who scrunch up their noses when asked if they would like to sit out beside a camp fire. How damaging to hair or clothing could a little bit of wood smoke from a campfire be?
Besides it would all be gone with: Monday’s Wash!
As kids of course, it never entered our minds . There were no worries. If summer wind shifted, & we got a gust of it, we coughed, wiped our eyes, hid our faces in our jackets for a second or two & carried on!
Our families have enjoyed gathering around a fire for as far back as I can remember. Sometimes they were just in our backyard fire pit and at times we needed umbrellas when it started to rain. We didn’t give up easy! When I was camping with my own family, the boys usually kept it going even in the daytime…Again, rain or shine.
At night, there is something comforting and almost hypnotic about sitting on an old log or lawn chair, doing absolutely nothing but staring at a circle of toasty warm flames dancing & swaying every which way, while playfully flicking sparks unexpectedly. That is about the only time anyone moved, except to throw on another log or two. Then we’d settle again and watch the new logs ignite, maybe strike up a conversation, chat about everyone’s day.
Take that, Netflix!
A campfire in the evenings, after everything was done for the day, was almost a nightly routine while I was growing up. It was my Mom’s power tool to get me to finish the dishes or sweep & do my homework. Some evenings there would only be my Mom, Dad & me, Sissy Pie Lainie, but they always took the time & effort so I wasn’t disappointed. Generally, though, we did have neighbors or my cousins & my aunts & uncles dropped over for coffee & a game or two of cribbage. While the adults visited, we would sit around the fire, poking our greenwood sticks that Dad had whittled for us. If they had a nice neat point on the end, that was the hint that there was a wiener roast in the plan.
Oddly enough, I liked our campfires so much that I was willing to put my hostile feelings aside when the ‘name calling’ neighbor boys dropped by just about the time of our wiener roast. ‘Slugger’, that’s what I called my lucky bat, was parked for the night, along with most of my attitude & I was content to just chill by the fire. I have to admit on these occasions, they were decent & polite. They gabbed with my Dad about fishing, hunting, , how their Pops was going ballistic because their tractor was dead and somehow it was their fault…you know, everyday small talk. To this day, they still speak fondly of my Dad and I know he made lasting memories with them, including threatening to lose them in the bush up north on the next hunting trip…if they didn’t treat me nicer. But…they didn’t. They are still around , so obviously…Dad didn’t either.
All too soon, the fire was shrunk to dying embers. We hated to see it go. But Dad was always true to his word when he promised to make us another. Stuffed with hotdogs, & marshmallows we surrendered whatever was left of our green willow sticks, and said our goodnights.
Upstairs in my room, I sat at my window and thought of new plans for tomorrow. The stars were so vibrant in our prairie sky, while the moon cast long shadows across the yard. Mom and Dad would be downstairs, tidying up and making their workday plans… Before long, it would be silent, except for the whipporwill and that scary owl…somewhere close. I didn’t REALLY believe mean ole’ Stevie when he told me THAT owl was waiting just for me to go outside at night & it would swoop down and PLUCK my eyes out!
Maybe I believed him a little…NAH! (Yeah, I did).
I climbed into bed and tied back my curtains. Summer wind drifted in, bringing the fragrance of our lilacs with it. I drifted to sleep thinking…If tomorrow night’s clear, and Dad has made fresh kindling and piled it beside the fire pit, that means it will be another great evening, because:
During the summer… When stars are bright…
Dad makes a campfire… Until late at night.
We each get a long stick… To poke in the fire…
Then blow out the flame… As it creeps a bit higher.
Sitting around it… Talking and planning…
Feeling the heat… Sting our faces from tanning.
Mom brings out ‘marshies’… For us to toast…
So we have a contest… who can burn theirs, the most!
We stuff ourselves sticky… Until they are gone…
And shiver each time… Owl hoots out his song!
It gives me the creeps… But brave ole’ Dad’s there.
He laughs and he says… “Owl’s saying his prayer!”
So we beg Dad again… For a story, “Please tell!”
He enjoys how we listen… But he does it so well!
Sometimes they are funny… We giggle all night.
Or else quite a scary one… We hush up, tight.
But slowly the flames… Burn down to a glow…
Dad gets the bucket…It is time to go.
That’s okay, too… If tomorrow night’s clear…
About the same time… We’ll be back out here.
To dad, by Summer Wind
As I write this, I can still hear the crackling sounds of our fire…not any fire…those fires are the ones on the pages of my mind right now, and all that went along with it. The smell of the green willow branches on my hands, wood smoke in my long hair.
As I hugged Shep, his fur smelled like wood smoke too, but his breath smelled like wieners! And he had a marshmallow stuck to his back!
On my way to school the following morning, those mean boys would probably run down their driveway and torment me all over again, but they wouldn’t get too close, because of ‘Slugger’.
By the end of the day, it would all turn out okay & in my favor because I knew I would get a100% on our spelling test & they would fail and have to stay after school to write out words for an hour. Then their Pops would go ballistic because they were late getting home for chores….It was going to be a good…no…make that…a great day for me! My memory is clear on this. It was.
Hope you enjoyed sitting around this campfire with me.
For my next blog, I will take you ‘BERRY PICKING’. A job every kid I knew who lived on the prairie, had to endure.
P.S……Yes, that is me in the little ugly dress!
Memory Lane @: www.pagesofmymindblog.com