Thursday, August 23, 2007

Camping at Kingfisher

Poking at the dying embers of my campfire brings back dying memories of my time on Wild Pig Ridge and at Terrapin Station. Other bonfires…other times of lonliness. Drifting into the past now…another lifetime ago. It’s chilly here among these towering pines…no sun to warm my back. The smell of the forest intoxicates me. I’ve been too long away from just sitting in nature.

When I first bought the property on Wild Pig Ridge, there was an old mud floor shanty cabin there, falling sideways and caving in upon itself. Once home to the resident hippie pot farmer, it was no longer remotely habitable although there were still wire coat hangers in what passed for the closet. One hot Tehama County 4th of July my son Scott and I tore it down. This resulted in a towering pile of decaying lumber higher than my head. Throughout the long, lonely winter I spent up there, I burned those rotten old boards a few at a time in blazing bonfires that lit The Ridge for miles around. Sitting on my plank bench, poking at the fire with a long steel pole, I did a lot of musing and drifting through memories. Often I sat, with Babe at my side, and watched the dying embers as daylight faded and night came on and darkness swallowed us up. We would carry the warmth of the fire with us as we trudged back up the hill to our little trailer and settled in for a long cold night.

That was 1994-95 and I lived without bonfires for quite awhile after that. Then in 2001 I moved to Osceola and built a fire pit in the back corner of Terrapin Station. A torn down garage (that had been painted pink!) provided the first stack of wood to be burned. Rotting, decaying and full of bugs, it was a gloves and arms-length activity. Later the yard and all its bountiful growth was the chief supplier of fuel for the many fires I lit on that hill where I spent four happy years. My new pup Princess Dark Star and I would watch the flames rise and hear the sap snap and feel the same warmth I felt on The Ridge. All seasons I was out there burning. The Bonfire of Beltane on the first of May, the Hunter’s Moon flames in the fall. Sweating it out in the summer and shivering if I got out of the circle of heat in the winter. Mostly I remember sitting beside the fire on those starlit nights watching dying embers glow and feeling a sense of peace and tranquility unlike any other time in my life.

Now I live in an urban area where burning is prohibited and even indoor fireplaces are looked at askance by environmentalists. It takes a camping trip into the National Forest to be able to build a fire to sit by and reminisce and remember other times and places. And to dream.


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