I like to imagine that one day I’ll have a little cottage with a well-kept garden, porch swing, and not far away will be a fire ring that welcomes travelers from near and far. Some of my best memories have happened at a fireside where friends and family have gathered to roast hot dogs and make smores while swapping stories. Such a place has become a safe harbor, even when all but the ash is gone; I’ve found myself sitting in the comfort of the fire ring.
Magic sparks shoot heavenward while logs crackle and warmth ripples. I love seeing firelight in the eyes of children who pile on wood for a magnificent blaze or scorch their mallows as they watch with glee. This is the space I want to give you as you read these blogs. In a world of profile pictures, hashtags, unwanted advertisements, links, and profound busy I invite you to my fire circle – welcoming you as a friend.
Let me start with a story of a place I loved long ago. My parents moved our family to Montana when I was in the second grade (around seven years old). Campfires were a big part of my life back then. We lived in a large yellow house with a long driveway. The road that ran in front of our home had wild asparagus and rhubarb growing along the edge. Mom picked from the natural supply freely and baked rhubarb pies that Dad loved.
An apple orchard filled the space between our home and the road. I had a love-hate relationship with that orchard, sucking down liquid Benadryl before going out to climb the trees was often required. Oh, how I loved to climb and swing from those branches. A tire swing hung from one of the trees nearest the house. It was a favorite place for us, competitive as we were. We would often see who could be spun in a continuous twist the longest.
Summer nights were my favorite. I’d eat my weight in watermelon and watch as stars twinkled in the night sky. Dad would set up a tent that us four older children could “camp” in all summer long. Looking back from the lens of a parent, I must give the old man props. Getting us to sleep outside for the greater part of two months was a well-executed plan.
I know I’m painting a beautiful picture. There’s one more element that completes it. We lived in a valley nestled high in the Rocky Mountains, all around us were the tall peaks of what for me was mountain majesty. Once I drew a picture of them that looked more like giant purple pyramids with white tips. I loved their looming presence and watching the snowline rise and fall with the seasons. It was there, nestled in the Flathead Valley that I fell in love with Mother Earth and all she offered. It was here, in this place of wonder that my little budding gypsy soul found solace in the smell of pine as I dug my barefoot feet into dark mountain soil.
Our time in that yellow house was the best my childhood had to offer. I don’t linger on these memories for long, the stark comparison of what was to come is too harsh. But I’m always glad when I can look back and for a moment feel that nugget of innocence planted in the garden of my heart. The fireside most often brings it back to me.
Now it’s your turn. What is your most vivid childhood memory? Please share, I look forward to hearing from you even if it’s just a few lines.
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
Proverbs 22:6 NLT
-From the Fire Ring Blog, Vol.1, No.1