I can’t really tell you what it is about a fire that is majestic. Is it the gathering of materials to blaze, starting with small tinder, working in small twigs to sticks then larger logs? Is it because of its place as a time of bonding and storytelling of many mountain men, Indians and family’s? Or is it because of its importance in survival? Tom Brown Jr, the famous tracker from the New Jersey Pine Barrens wrote in one of his books that he once had fire taken away from him by his Apache mentor because he became sloppy with making fires and therefore was loo]sing respect for fire and its importance. Brown wrote that the several week stretch he and his childhood friend had to endure without fire to keep them warm and cook their food, were miserable. Fire can destroy life or it can give it, Is it respect like this for something so simple yet is so incredibly crucial that makes it majestic?
I found the majesty in fire this past weekend while camping on an island with some friends. Waking up to the sun pouring in through the screen window, I lay motionless under my sleeping bag for several minutes letting my brain wake up. Careful not disturb anyone, I slipped out the tent and to the fire pit, the black and white ashes were still smoldering from the night before. I took a stick, moved the ashes around to find hot coals, gathering them all into a small pile to optimize the chances of lighting tinder on fire. I was crouched low, looking into the coals, slowly adding tinder and small bits of dried bark; I felt like an Indian making a fire while out on a hunt. Still groggy from sleep yet contemplating the mysteries of life and soaking up the morning sun, I heard rustling in front of me. Not leaves rustling but plastic rustling. Looking up I witnessed a red squirrel eating our marshmallows right out of the bag. “There goes my breakfast.” I laughed softly and threw a stick at the bag sending the red little jerk scampering up a tree. How the heck a red squirrel managed to get onto an island I have no idea.
Ever so carefully I stoked the fire as if I were creating a master piece of art. Fanning the coals, the dried bark and pine needles soon began to catch sending a small stream of smoke directly into the air. Crouching low near the base of the coals, I blew air directly over their surface sending ash into my face and into my mouth. This also sent the tinder pile into flames. Success! Small twigs and sticks burned quickly till the fire was mature enough to burn bigger pieces. Warmth, comfort, life, I guess that is how the Indians and mountain men regarded fire. We take fire for granted way too much. Create fire in the wild and the satisfaction of days long gone will flood your heart.
Sitting in the dirt by a morning fire I couldn’t ask for much more. Surrounded by giant pine trees, with the day barely alive itself, asking God for wisdom and seeking his council, a simpler place, a simpler time. I was born a few hundred years too late. Yea, that sounds weird but that’s just me and I really don’t care what others think about it. Well ok, give me by bow and broad heads and we are really in for a good time.