Up the Creek: Campfires and Wood Stoves
By Ken Blomberg
Dreams of summer campfires last winter drew closer when I stared into the glass door of our living room wood stove. Campfires and wood stoves have much in common. While sitting mesmerized watching flames dance together behind the glass, I pondered of years around campfires with family and friends.
In life’s journey, the circle of friends we keep defines how we act, who we are and what we ultimately become. By all accounts, a person is measured by the company he or she spends time with, day in and day out. Outdoors men and women have many things in common, with close friends and shared passions ranking high on the list. Gather them together around a campfire and a portrait of their lives emerges.
Friends have met in a circle about fires since the beginning of time. Shoulder to shoulder, they sat around the flames to share warmth as well as storytelling, songs, lies, laughter and tears. Many a world problem has been solved around a campfire. Before television, phones and newspapers, it was a place outdoors folks would get together for entertainment, news and comfort.
Did you ever wonder why a campfire is circular in design? A square fire pit is hardly practical. Round perhaps, since the circle is recognized as a symbol of unity, of infinity, without beginning or end – perfect, the ultimate geometric symbol. It is about equality – each member receives an equal dose of warmth. And the circle represents matters of nature – the sun, the moon, planets, tree rings, life and death. Built openly on the ground, fire rings were built of boulders, concrete and metal – designed to contain and embrace, while preventing flames from spreading.
Churches should be round, with the altar in the middle. Without backs and sides, the congregation would face the pastor, each other and the Lord. At one time, round barns were constructed to accommodate the farmer – once around the stalls, he would milk, feed and find himself back at the door and closer to his own meal. Circular homes never seemed to catch on – perhaps not enough places to hide – as family members need their space.
Early settlers rested their wagons in a circle around a fire to keep creatures away in the dark of night and desperados at bay when attacked. Small coveys of bobwhite quail and large herds of massive arctic tundra musk ox circle at night or when threatened. Safe, secure and with peace of mind, it is a matter of creature and human comfort to do so.
So, who do you share your campfires with these days? Those that share the campfires of my mind include both living and departed. When the time comes to gather in the hereafter, it will be a grand affair – defying the common belief that Satan has the market on flames.
Until then, if the masses name me king, I will rule that cities, villages and townships mandate campfire rings in every backyard. Just imagine how better off we all would be.