What a beautiful summer evening here in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. It is a cool 62 degrees, common in this area, and I am sitting by a fire in my back yard. Over the years I have probably done this several thousand times. It was a nightly ritual with me and my parents when I was a boy, and I did the same with my sons when they were growing up.
For those of us who live here in northern New York, this is somewhat of a national pastime. The day is over, the sun has set, the peepers are singing and for a few magnificent hours in the cool, quiet night we slow down, sit by a fire, cook something on a stick, listen and talk in the yellow flicker of that ancient light.
There is no way to describe what happens to body, soul and spirit when you lean back in your favorite chair and feel the warmth of a wood fire crackling in front of you on a cool, damp night. It somehow brings comfort, peace and a sense that life has just found a way to settle down, no matter what the day has been. Life is good, by an evening fire, and nothing can disturb it.
I have had some interesting visitors over the years, while enjoying my evening fire. Most nights in has has been my wife, but on occasion it was a neighbor or fellow camper who wandered in when we were on a public campsite. Those were special moments of divine impartation where souls met, we sat a spell and our life stories unfolded. Memories, not yet forgotten, were often shared that spanned a lifetime or two. At other times it was a racoon, a chipmunk, a possum, a rabbit, a great snowy owl, a skunk, a tree frog and even a small black bear came looking with timid curiosity at whatever I was slowly roasting over the fire. It has been a wonderful way to just slow down and connect with life in general. In all honesty I would not trade one of these moments for anything in this world.
Beyond all this, every night I have the best seat in the house for the main attraction. The cast of characters are unlike anything you can find on Broadway, and the brilliance of each performance exceeds the acting of the biggest Hollywood star. I am referring, of course, to the constellations turning over head, the aurora borealis draping the sky, and meteor showers that streak against a backdrop of a thousand diamond-like stars. Absolutely breathtaking! A magnificent display of God’s amazing creation, and it’s all free for the looking! You just can’t get anything like it in the city.
Do you need a mini vacation from a run-ragged life? Are you wanting a place to find quiet and rest for your weary soul, but don’t know where to go? Do you need to be reawakened to the view of life your ancestors knew, framed in the flicker of soft yellow light? Then let me suggest that everything you are looking for is waiting for you in your own backyard. All you need to do is get a few fire blocks, make an outdoor fireplace and then, just after sun set, touch a match to some broken up tree limbs or wood scraps left around the house. Enjoy a return to the basics of life that include soft, yellow flickering fire light, heat you can see and feel, a bit of wood smoke in the cool evening breeze and a fire-roasted snack of any kind.
There is nothing like sitting by an evening fire to bring everything that’s really important into focus. Who knows, after you cook that first hotdog, or smoke-melt a piece of sharp cheddar cheese with your kids and grand kids, you just might start a family tradition that will still be going on long after you are dead. Wouldn’t this be a great legacy of peace, conversation and solitude to leave behind? My sons and grandchildren all enjoy it, and I am sure when I am gone, every fire they light will remind them of the wonderful times we spent as a family remembering our past, enjoying our present and pondering our future. Life by a fire…. you just can’t improve on that! Now, go make a few memories of your own around a fire tonight.