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Today is December 13, 2019

Outdoors

Tales around a winter campfire

By Tony Kinton

Tales around a winter campfire

Campfires afford a captivating picture of life, one form of matter giving off heat and serving that purpose for which it was selected and then bursting heavenward to live on in another form.

Some will conclude late fall or winter a flawed time for camping. Too cold; too damp; too consumed by ballgames; too choked with holiday festivities. And there is an element of truth in these objections; however, there are exceptions. I elect to focus on those exceptions and go camping, usually in the travel trailer but often in canvas. When in canvas, a woodstove is employed, its pipe transitioning inside to out through that protective collar in the tent’s roof.

And there are parameters for winter camping. How cold is too cold? That is the camper’s decision. I once spent four nights in a Montana blizzard when the thermometer never rose above 21 below. Yes, below zero; and yes, in a wall tent. We could do little more than sit and feed the stove with split aspen, not the most viable fuel. That was too cold. But Mississippi and surrounding areas are not so brutal. Surely, there will be cold but some not-too-cold days and nights available. And those other factors mentioned above can generally be circumvented. So, a quick camping trip could be in the making.

What are you to do on that trip? Be quiet and reflective if possible. Walk to water’s edge at dawn and absorb the majesty. Watch those tenuous and feeble fingers of fog drift upward to greet sunrise. Listen for the first crow’s caw or the lonesome honk of geese. Admire the morning sky. Take time to be thankful.

And always spend ample time enjoying one specifically alluring entity of camping. I discovered decades back that the most intriguing aspect of a camping trip is the fire. And let it be noted that a campfire is not relegated to a camp. It can be just as memorizing in the backyard as it is at the campground.   

Campfires afford a captivating picture of life, one form of matter giving off heat and serving that purpose for which it was selected and then bursting heavenward to live on in another form. It is also therapeutic. Watching it heals, soothes, sands off frayed edges that have become ragged. And it does this sanding with supple cloth minus chafing. Gently; quietly; in caring fashion.

Campfires induce storytelling. Several of us recently sat entranced as the fire danced and flickered and stories began to flow. One was about Frank, a local personality. A jovial guy, Frank toys with peanuts. Each fall he boils monstrous amounts and gives them away. He told me recently that he loved boiled peanuts, but noted they had begun to hurt him. I immediately offered my condolences. He said that after eating about two gallons at a time, he got this pain in his side. We all went to warm beds and waited with great expectation for a new winter’s morning.

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information.

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