Campfire Memories

July 12th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
Years ago. our little cabin in the woods had a campfire pit built nearby, composed of rocks dislodged from the walls assembled by farmers when there were fields instead of the now surrounding forest. Three trees were felled to use as “benches” around the campfire where we’d huddle roasting ears of corn or marshmallows long into the night. The familiar faces of family members glowed with warmth in the firelight and at the stories they told filling the night air. Since then, some have passed on, our circle broken; the rocks removed and scattered to the wilds. Our rustic seating area disintegrated over time, meshing back into the earth from which it sprang. Even so, the memories remain. Star studded nights call them back to this place, sequestered from all else. I wanted it back. The people along with the memories. At the very least, the campfire in its rightful place once more. A primeval force rekindled by a tribal instinct.
Last summer, I attempted to do just that. While Michael napped in mid afternoon bliss, I trudged up the hill to borrow my brother’s wheelbarrow. No one else was around for the weekend. I was on my own. I knew just the place to garner the rocks needed to recreate the pit. Wheelbarrow in gear, I barreled down the hill to the old stone wall that ran along the roadside. The wall was in a state of partial collapse and I would help it along by removing only as many rocks as needed. In an effort to get as close as possible to the wall which was situated up the other side of the ditch, I had to get down into the ditch itself. It was full of water but no matter. I splashed the barrow into it where I promptly became stuck. In the country, flip flops are not the wisest choice in footwear. The mud sucked at the soles. Squoo-utch! Squoo-utch! One for each foot, thus rendering me immobile. I was like one of those dolls with the suction cups stuck on a dashboard of a car. In attempting to disengage myself from the mud sucking ditch, I fell over sideways into the muck. Great! I heard myself laughing at my own foolishness. I struggled to my feet, slipping out of my flip flops which held fast to the mud as I tugged at first one and then the other, releasing its grip from the mud monster. I began again, this time carefully avoiding the ditch, and climbed up to the wall. I dropped rocks into the barrow with a satisying resounding thud at each collected prize. Filled to the brim, I jumped back down (barefoot) and gripped the handles of the barrow that proved too weighty to move. It buckled and shifted to one side, toppling into the ditch very much as I had done earlier. I had to remove some of the rocks to lessen its load. This done, and still with considerable effort, I forced the barrow out of the ditch and up onto the road with a grunt. Then went back for the remaining rocks with which to refill the barrow.
I was now ready to haul my load of rocks to its intended site. It wouldn’t budge. I removed some rocks yet again. Ugh! Still too heavy but I somehow managed to inch my way up the road, and I do mean inch in its every literal sense. I was determined, with all the backing of my deceased relatives cheering me on, to labor at my task like a demented workhorse. I began to break into a sweat, not having had the foresight to realize how….very….far….my destination lay. I….just….couldn’t….do it. Abandoning the wheelbarrow in the middle of the road, hoping a car wouldn’t happen along, I walked the rest of the way to get help. Now, the road is a private one, composed of dirt, and just as natural a country road as one could imagine; wide enough for just one car, that dead ends after a mile or so. It wasn’t likely that a car would come along; the only houses were a couple of vacation homes and a neglected campsite or two. But with the way my luck was running, I didn’t want to chance it. I went back. Tried again. And again. And a ….gain. Until eventually, I came within sight of my destination. Close enough.
Now for the fun part….
I would assemble the fire pit. Fairly soon however, I ran out of rocks. It wasn’t even half done. I couldn’t go back and repeat the insanity. Instead, I grabbed rocks wherever I could, even risking entering the forbidden (ja, das ist verboten) poison ivy area where everyone is repeatedly warned to steer clear. Certain I was immune to the unassuming little plant, I plodded on. Still….not enough rocks. By this time I was overcome by an overwhelming desire to squash the project in favor of something less arduous. In exasperation, with no energy left to wave a flag of defeat, I simply gave up. Someone would help me next time. Michael. My brother (maybe not, if he ever finds out I bent the frame underneath his wheelbarrow and frantically bent it back into shape weakening the entire structure). The main thing is, I made some new memories; in the form of an itchy, scratchy, miserable rash on both legs that lasted for weeks and grew progressively worse as time wore on, defying every conceivable remedy. Never underestimate the power of a tiny little plant with three very distinctive leaves. When (if) the fire pit is finally built, I’ll be itching (pun, most definitely intended) to tell this story around the campfire. It needs no embellishing.
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One Response to “Campfire Memories”

  1. blackhat Says:

    Nothing cosier than sitting around the campfire, telling stories, and getting stoned & drunk. Nice writing

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