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Warmth, security …..fire!


Wood can warm you three times; when you cut it, when you split and stack it and when you burn it. Fire is what brought us in from the cold and there hasn’t been a more important discovery since. A fire is mesmerizing and its fragrance can be pure ambrosia. One “Old Timer” once said that a pine knot thrown on a fire will bring the north woods inside and truer words were never spoken. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A fire has the ability to fixate those who stare into its flames. Multicolored dancing streams of heat can keep you occupied for as long as they last. It’s a poor man’s therapy session. Fire has a way of putting things into perspective; mountains become small piles of ash and don’t seem as insurmountable by the time the fire dies out. And its warmth is as comforting as a mothers embrace.

We’ve tried to become more efficient in creating fire for heat; we learned that oil, gas, coal and liquid fuel will burn and for a longer time than wood; making it cheaper in some cases. We’ve even learned how to duplicate a wood fore, at least in appearance, with fake logs and flames or gas flames. But for ambiance and fragrance a wood fire can’t be duplicated. Not even close.

There are different types of wood, all of which burn, but hardwoods such as oak and maple or hickory burn longer and if you add a piece of fruitwood, you have a potpourri of magnificent smells. Don’t forget the pine knot.

Campfires are what mark a day outdoors a success. After a day’s hunt or fishing with friends, sitting around a roaring fire warming yourself and drinking something hot that was heated on the fire, seems to sooth tired bones and disappointments caused by missed strikes by elusive trout or thundering grouse as they fly ahead of the number six’s thrown at them. The fire makes things OK and tomorrow something to look forward to.

“Old Timers” tell of huge bonfires built on the banks of frozen lakes to keep warm while spearing pike and other fish. They tell of warming and drying cloths of those misfortunate enough to have gone through thin ice. Every story told of gatherings of people who relish the outdoors has a memory of time spent around a campfire. What would a ghost story be if not told around a campfire?

Building a fire is a rite of passage from parent to child. It’s a big thing to be allowed to start the campfire for the first time. It’s a way of proving your ready to join the club of outdoorsmen who can survive in the woods with a fishhook and string and two matches. The key is being able to start a fire with only two matches. (That is until the advent of the disposable lighter.)

For a youngster, being able to build a campfire means being trusted to use an ax to make kindling, a pocket knife to cut and sharpen a switch for roasting marshmallows and cooking hotdogs over jumping flames. If it was done with only two matches and no blood from a cut finger, wow…you grew a foot that day.

Fires keep the wolves at bay. They are a source of security, warmth and of course, prosperity. There is no one more prosperous than a person sitting in their living room with family and friends in front of a fire in the fireplace. Throw on a pine knot or two and if only for a short while, all is well.

Dogs find comfort in a fire too. Jake, my yellow lab of years gone by, used to lie as close as he could to the fire in a Franklin Stove at the cabin – if the doors were open so much the better. He’d lay so close steam would rise from his coat. When he was warm enough on one side, he’d turn over. I still have hat picture in my mind even though Jake has been gone for long time.



Warmth, security …..fire!

  1. John Beach says:

    Oh, How true, I miss the Deer camps that had wood stoves to cook on and to heat with….Many great stories came from them.


    1. admin says:

      Feel free to share, John.

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