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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fire of Time

The other night my Lovely Bride and I traveled eons in time.

Who would have imagined a short two mile drive could be so impactful?

We left the air conditioned comfort of LB’s SUV to begin our trek across the grassy plains. The deep forest primeval loomed before us. From the edge of the daunting woodland, Mankind’s first friend and foe gleamed.

With every step, the wilds of suburbia became transformed to another epoch. Finally, we gathered around the fire, family, close friends and dogs joining us.  Sure, we rested weary derrieres in comfortable lawn chairs while enjoying cool beverages.

We heard a turkey calling, watched the shadowy movement of deer through the trees with no worries about our place in the food-chain. We had no fear of saber - toothed tigers, cave bears or even over-sized birds of prey. We only had to contend with that nemesis of every continent on the planet; the blasted mosquito!

The fire was not a survival necessity; the evening meals had been prepared on modern stoves and consumed in comfortable homes. Fending off hypothermia certainly was not a concern on this pleasant late May evening. It was not required for illumination, as there was access to outdoor lights, flashlights, and candles.  To a pragmatist, there was no reason whatsoever for the fire to exist.

Others could (no, probably would) condemn the fire as a blatant act of global irresponsibility. With callous disregard for the planet, we spewed unknown amounts of carbon aloft, while destroying the Earth’s lungs by felling trees; with gas powered chain saws none the less.
It would be of little consequence to those of such a view to point out the trees which had been cut were American ash; killed by the non-native, invasive Emerald Ash borer.

As the evening shadows deepened into night, the fire became a beacon summoning grandchildren, their friends, and the dogs to its comforting light. Also, the siren song of s’mores, those delectable sugar laden treats. There is something about toasted golden brown gooey marshmallows, a slab of chocolate lightly melting between crispy graham crackers that are irresistible.  (Note to self: s’mores are not a good snack choice while sporting a full beard).

Soon three generations were gathered around; sharing stories, laughing, enjoying a small portion of life. It required little imagination for our little group to be transformed to a long ago time. Perhaps on this very spot, early humans gathered for a fire. Encamped in a deep forest, they could hear the river splashing over newly formed rocks. The crackling and snapping of burning tree limbs provided a comfort and security. Beyond the ring of firelight, eyes of wild animals glowed eerily in the darkness.  But, all fears were negated with the application of another branch to the fire.

Time slipped by, stars glistened through the tree leaves high overhead. A soft wind moaned, and a cry of lament went up as a marshmallow slipped off the weenie fork, to a fiery demise. Soon, the eyes of grand-children become heavy, marshmallows, chocolate bars, and crackers are packed up.  Our little band withdrew from the fire, all except for one keeping watch as it gently burned itself down..

The aroma of wood smoke lingered in the air, beckoning us to return soon.

I know we will.  

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