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From the Fire Ring: Early Memories



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 from various adventures. Such a place has become a harbor in my heart of good feelings. Even when all but the ash has gone away, I’ve found myself sitting in the comfort of such a place.


The magic of sparks shooting heavenward while logs crackle brings a smile to my face. I love seeing firelight reflecting in the eyes of my children who are either piling on the wood for a magnificent blaze or scorching their mallows with a fair amount of teasing in the process. This is the scene I long to set for my blog. In a world of profile pictures, hashtags, unwanted advertisements and links, I’m choosing to invite you to my circle and call you friend. Let’s sit together and share ramblings from life as we come to know each other.


How about I start with a place I loved long ago? My parents moved our family to Montana when I was in the second grade (I was around seven years old). I can remember campfires being a part of my life even then. We lived in a big yellow house with a long driveway. There was an apple orchard out front. I had a love-hate relationship with that orchard, sucking down liquid Benadryl before going out to climb the trees that called to me.


The road that ran in front of the yellow house had wild asparagus and rhubarb that grew along the edge. My mother picked from the natural supply. I can remember a white scarf tied on her head, blowing in the breeze as she filled her containers. A tire swing hung off a branch of the giant tree in our backyard. We were competitive children and always tried to see who could take the spinning the longest. Summer nights were my favorite, I’d eat my weight in watermelon and watch as stars began to twinkle when dusk surrendered to darkness.


We lived in that old yellow house for a few years. In the summers Dad would set up a tent that my older brother, myself, younger sister, and baby brother would “camp” in all summer long. Looking back from the lens of a parent, I have to laugh and give my old man props. Getting four of his five kids to sleep outside for two months was a well executed plan. To sweeten the deal, we had two black lab puppies to snuggle with. Their names were Cinder and Lucinda, I’ve loved labs ever since.


I know I’m painting a beautiful picture, but there’s one more element that completes it. We lived in a valley surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. For school I once had to draw a picture of them, they looked like giant purple pyramids with white tips. I loved the looming presence of the mountains 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. My little budding gypsy soul found solace in the smell of pine and digging my barefoot feet into the dark mountain soil that surrounded us.


Our three years in that yellow house were the best my childhood had to offer. I don’t linger on those memories long, but I’m always glad when I have a moment to look back and enjoy the innocence of my early memories--the fireside just seems to bring it back. 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.


-J.

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