A Campfire at Sunset

The sun sank behind the fir trees on a nearby ridge as my younger brother and I searched the hilltop for scraps of dry wood. After weeks of rain, dry wood was as rare as a liberal at West Point. Armed with a Leatherman, a magnesium fire starter stick, and a handful of receipts from the glove compartment of my dad's truck we set out to warm our cold fingers and hear the snapping of a small campfire.

A cold east wind flew through the gorge, bending Douglas Fir trees and complicating our attempts of starting a fire.

The last wisps of light drifted west as I scraped fragments of magnesium off the starter stick onto the receipt. I gingerly set up a small Tee-Pee around the dime-sized pile of magnesium and struck the ignition stick. For an instant, the flames lept up around the cedar kindling like second graders around an 18-year-old teacher's assistant. Despite my feverish attempts to blow over the miniature log house, the flames only darkened the frayed edges of the cedar, dying out completely within a minute. Unfazed, I pulled a rumpled oil change receipt from October, 2007 out of my pocket and started chipping away at the fire starter.

A small flame quickly warmed my hands and illuminated my shadow on a nearby bush. After thirty minutes of breathing wood smoke, dirtying my knees and periodic, frantic searches for pieces of dry firewood, the shy flames finally lingered. Quickly, the dinner plate sized blaze developed into a self respecting campfire.

Tim's well loved, size 14 Danners warming by the fire.

For the next hour and a half, Tim and I stoked the fire and chatted brotherly things. We watched wither and warp, and hiss and pop.

Some will talk over a beer, others over a caffeinated beverage, for me I will take a fire any day. I love the smell of smoke, the labor of splitting wood, the occasional teary eyes from changing wind and the lingering flavor of fire for weeks on your jacket or sweater.

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A Campfire at Sunset (Picasa).