Once again I’m in the quiet. Wrapped in a blanket and holding an enamel cup of coffee. Strong coffee boiled over coals, steaming, and warming me inside. Fussing with my fire, I watch the flames dance in and around the dead mesquite branches. There’s something about a fire that makes me reminiscent. I think it’s the familiarity of sitting in a camp, smelling the smoke, and staring at the glowing coals. Most camp fires look alike, and this could be any one of hundreds of fires I’ve sat by, coffee in hand. It’s easy for me to be a little hypnotized by a nice campfire.
Watching these flames takes me back to my youth, when I would meet my friends on the bank of sishoni creek. There we would fish for catfish in the muddy waters, and cook our supper in coals: Hamburger meat, zucchini squash, tomatoes and onions all wrapped up in tin foil. We called those suppers “hobo dinners”, though it always seemed to me we were eating like kings.
Similar fires were fanned to life under Henrietta Bridge, usually with my father and brothers. Crappie fishing at Lake Arrowhead was often quite good from 1:00 to 3:00 am, and a fire eased the wait a bit. And in the spring, when the crappie are spawning it can still get quite chilly
In north central Texas.
Some fires were built for warmth, others for cooking. 4:30 am in a twenty degree deer camp is only bearable because of a fire. And I’ve made fires on hot summer nights because I knew I would need coals in the morning for my Dutch oven biscuits.
I’ve enjoyed my favorite fires while camping with my wife and children. The children to listen to my stories, and my wife to prove that smoke really does follow beauty. Then years later, around a firepit with our adult children. Telling the same stories, laughing at the same old jokes.
My heart is a rich mixture of memory and imagination, and I could watch this fire for hours, but eventually it grows weary – it’s flames no longer dancing, but lying. Ready for bed, as am I.