As with all things having to do with the outdoors, and nearly everything else of any import, my Dad taught me how to build a fire. We spent many a Saturday burning brush in the backyard. Using more than one match or resorting to gas to get things going was frowned upon, and wet wood was only an inconvenience. There is always dry tinder to be found if you know where to look.
Those backyard lessons came in handy as I started spending frequent weekends on Boy Scout campouts. Campfires heated water for cocoa and oatmeal in the mornings, and sometimes produced “scrambled pancakes” if we forgot a spatula and had to turn them with a fork. In the evenings, we might have vegetables cooked in aluminum foil, generally crunchy and underdone, but if we were lucky they would be followed by a cobbler baked in the Dutch oven nestled in the glowing coals. Later, we would huddle around the fire and talk, but mostly we would just sit and stare, mesmerized by the flames.
My Boy Scout days are long behind me, and camping opportunities of any sort are few and far between these days, but I still use those fire-making skills on a regular basis. Usually, it’s to burn leaves or brush in my own backyard,
Thanks Dad, for teaching me how to do it.
*With apologies to Jack London .