The Campfire

The hardwoods and pine trees around the wilderness lake stand out like black lace against the evening sky.  The fishing rod is laid aside in favour of the paddle and within a few strokes the canoe is gliding toward a dancing flame on the shore.  The campfire light reflected on the water is like a shimmering path drawing in the anglers.

The cook has scoured the forest for seasoned oak and maple for his fire, knowing that dry hardwood produces the hottest and cleanest burning coals.  As the fishermen come ashore he rakes out the coals into a bed of searing heat and sets the old grill over them.  Venison steaks carefully wrapped and frozen the previous fall, with this moment in mind, hit the grill and sizzle.  The aroma promises a meal as spectacular as the sunset.   The robust flavour of the wild, in the steaks, is enhanced by wisps of tangy smoke. Eating venison cooked over the fire makes them feel like wolves; self-reliant and at ease in this lonely place.

After supper, staring into the re-stoked fire slows down their high speed, multi-tasking, mental computers necessary for modern life.  Their minds morph into old fashioned spinning wheels where skeins of thought are spun into hunting and fishing yarns that seem, at first, to cross into nose stretching territory.  But with outdoor tales there is little need for exaggeration because so many remarkable things happen when we go afield.  Like the canoeists on a river trip, who rounded a sharp bend and saw a moose feeding in the river facing away from them.  They hoisted paddles and sat silently. The current pushed them so close to the moose they had to fend the canoe off its rump with a paddle.

Fatigue claims the body when the wood pile has been consumed.  Pots of water from the lake poured onto the coals make them billow steam. They hiss angrily in protest because so fine a thing as a campfire has been put out.

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