“I love a campfire. I like to say that having one is to ‘enjoy the thrice-warming wood.’ … First, you warm up from the physical labor of collecting the wood. Then, you warm up from the labor of breaking and/or sawing it. Finally, of course, the wood gives its life to entertain, console, amuse, mesmerize and warm you, in mind and body, with fire.” –– from Thrice Warming Wood in The Balsamean blog, March 15, 2013
And, as I like to say in The Balsamean blog, “There is no solitude in a forest. When in doubt, have a campfire.”
It does not mean people will join you around the campfire. Maybe they will, as campfires may do that. But just the process of making a campfire, alone in the woods, that thrice warming process creates companionship within you, in solitude.
And there is no solitude in a forest because in nature you are surrounded by more companions than you’ll ever know. It just takes opening yourself to them, immersing all your senses in them, one by one until they merge into an integral encounter that may draw your mind into unity with the consciousness of nature, if only for a moment. Every moment counts.
Of course, I’m not alone as a fan of campfires …
Bob Kanegis at Storyteller’s Campfire (and StoryConnection.com) makes of storytelling a campfire essential to light our lives, notably in his post, The Endangered Stories Act- It is the Law! He writes:
There is nothing more valuable that we can pass on to each other than our stories. When we capture and share our most important life lessons, we give a gift to ourselves, to the people we love and the people who love us.
By this reckoning, we are the campfire.
In educator Ed Darrell’s blog, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, where he is “Striving for accuracy in history, economics, geography, education, and a little science,” he writes in the post Why a campfire? …
There is some primal need to watch a fire, to study it, to experiment with it, and finally just to watch it go. … Kids who know fire are more mature, generally, more relaxed about the excitement of the stuff, and much more careful with it. Scouts who have dabbled in the campfire respect fire for what it is and for what it can do, good and bad. …
Thank you, Ed, for making accuracy meaningful, so important these days!
And a bit further into the world of campfires …
Who has smelled the woodsmoke at twilight, who has seen the campfire burning, who is quick to read the noises of the night? —Rudyard Kipling
Nope! That’s “The Fake Literature Internet” misquote. Here’s the real thing:
Who hath smelt wood-smoke at twilight? Who hath heard the birch-log burning?
Who is quick to read the noises of the night?
Let him follow with the others, for the Young Men’s feet are turning
To the camps of proved desire and known delight!
Let him go—go—go away from here!
On the other side the world he’s overdue.
’Send your road is clear before you when the old Spring-fret comes o’er you,
And the Red Gods call for you!
— Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) in The Feet of the Young Men, 1897
Kipling explains “Red Gods” in his 1897 letter to C.E. Norton, from The Letters of Rudyard Kipling: Volume 2: 1890-99 edited by R. Kipling (image taken from the book at books.google.com.)
The last two sentences are the best part!
He had walked through woods, and sat at night beside a campfire. Although he had through the memories learned about pain of loss and loneliness, now he gained, too, an understanding of solitude and its joy.. —from p. 122 in The Giver, a 1993 Young Adult novel by Lois Lowry.
… bringing us full circle to joy in solitude. Many thanks to everyone quoted. It was an adventure looking for you, because not just anyone will do, and you made it worthwhile.