AS I WAS SAYING: Ritual of campfires still defines summer
Granted, if you require rain or a generally more agreeable temperature to make your living, it was a punishing three months.
Nonetheless, each summer has its own rhythm and brings its own memories.
When I was a kid, I had a friend who counted all the pop bottles he drank by saving all the bottle caps. We’d each buy a 16 oz RC Cola (they were the cheapest) and beg Mr. McDonald not to charge us the 10 cent deposit if we promised to bring it back later that day, which of course we would. And I would give my buddy my bottle cap. Another fun day in the summer.
I find now though that summer is mostly defined by the most ritualistic of pastimes. A couple of hours rooted in our DNA. The greatest of ancestral gatherings.
I don’t own a fire pit on my property, so this is one of the many reasons camping has such a grip on me. I love the outdoors, the walking trails, canoe routes and the ever-present smell of a nearby campfire.
There is something so mythical about its draw that keeps us coming back.
In our present day, we’ve done a good job of making campfires all about marshmallows, s’mores and toasted cheese and ham sandwiches. Ipods and Bluetooth speakers make portable music so easy to use if there isn’t a guitar around.
But when all is said and done, it is still about the ring of chairs….the lull in the conversation. It brings about an incessant staring into the flames that captivates everyone in their own way. It stirs the soul and calms the spirit. The crackle of the wood is music to our city blunted ears, and the dancing flame captivates our imagination more than anything we could find on our phones.
No doubt, it started thousands of years ago as a way to keep us warm as we huddled in our small numbers against the barren wilderness. It was our source of heat for cooking and cleaning.
But even now, as a form of recreation, the campfire still plays an important role connecting us to nature and our past.
Campfires give us a reason to sit outside in the dark and talk. Tell stories. Share memories. Pass on traditions from one generation to the next as we pass the hot dogs around.
And as the yawning replaces the laughter and the children slip from our laps into their sleeping bags for the night, we stare into the flames in a quiet plea for just five…more…minutes. We want time to slow down until we can find a way to capture the peace that only a ring of family and friends can find around a fire.
I guess you could say that a campfire is really nature’s “Facebook”. A place to chat, share memories and “make some friends”. Without the username. Without a password. Just that distant call to gather for warmth, for company…..for peace.
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