DISCLAIMER: This is the wrong topic for this week. For some reason, I thought today was October 1. So I guess I’m going to have to write about this week’s topic next month!
This week’s topic is one I suggested: campfire or bonfire memories. Not being an outdoors type of person, I don’t participate in either of them now. We don’t have a fire pit here, and the groups I belong to are not inclined to meet outdoors. But I have some fond memories of times when I did.
Back in grade school, I belonged to the Camp Fire Girls. During the summer, my parents would send me to Camp Keewano, located in the central part of Michigan’s lower peninsula near the Huron-Manistee National Forest. The camp is no longer in operation, but I remember having a lot of fun doing crafts, singing, and sitting around the fire in the evening. Our counselors would tell us stories and I remember thinking how much fun it was to be around girls rather than just my two brothers.
In high school, we’d have bonfires to celebrate Homecoming. Since I was a student council officer I’d attend those, and have a great time. It was a time of optimism and enthusiasm that I loved. I didn’t attend the bonfires in college, probably because I didn’t want to go alone and didn’t know anyone else who went. In the end it’s probably good that I stayed behind, because my definition of partying activities differed from that of many others.
While I was in high school I joined a group of culturally diverse teenagers on a backpacking trip through the Rocky Mountains. A local filmmaker wanted to make a travelogue and recruited area teens, and I represented the very small Asian contingent. This was my first taste of real camping – we hiked, ate food prepared over the fire, and slept on the ground. I didn’t particularly enjoy the last part, but in the evening before we turned in, we’d sit around the fire and chat. Since my high school wasn’t particularly diverse, I found it interesting to learn about the ways others families did things. One particularly memorable evening, one of the older participants tried to hypnotize the rest of us. It didn’t work on me, but I remember watching some of the others as they sat up, but were unable to raise their arms!
The last time I sat around a fire was around twenty years ago. My daughters and I drove to New York State to visit my brother and his family. He had a fire pit in his backyard and one evening we sat around it, roasting marshmallows and chatting. He’s also a musician, and he took out one of his saxophones and started playing. It was a nice, relaxing evening after a day of sight-seeing and shopping.
In general, I find gatherings around the fire to be relaxing (except when hungry insects are in attendance), and fun, when you’re with people you enjoy. But I don’t enjoy them enough to go to the trouble of creating one. I appreciate daytime social events because I can see people’s faces, and for the most part I enjoy indoor gatherings because they’re generally bug-less. I suppose part of that is because I’m getting older and fussier.
What are your memories of fireside gatherings?