Sunday, September 05, 2010

giant city stars,
a falling leaf - made it to
another campfire

went camping for the labor day weekend - a change from past years, when we'd try to do it over easter and invariably got rained out. though we missed the eggs, and thought of dying labor eggs, we were rewarded for our rescheduling with stunning weather. it was clear, fresh, blue; there were so many stars out that one could see the galaxies splayed across them in white back-lit glow. i got to show this to one son who had literally never seen such a thing. i however have seen stars like that, and wonder, when i see them, why i don't choose to live out where i could see them more or at least more often; this campground is only seven miles out of town, and all the houses in the area probably enjoy this kind of night. there was no sign of ticks, mosquitoes or raccoons although there were daddy-long-legs everywhere; a question involved whether they actually bit and were poisonous, or maybe they bit everyone but couldn't get their small teeth into people; or what. i'd pick them up by the legs (easy) and pitch them out of the tent; my son thought i was quite brave but i thought, i'm actually not too smart, to not even know if they could hurt me or not.

some years the animals come and have at the food, knocking stuff over and rifling through bags; others, it's too crowded with people, and they would only bother us if we were on the edge. this year we were in the middle, more or less; we weren't bothered. we told some good animal stories, but didn't experience anything dramatic; no bears, no wolves, no coyotes. told bear stories, but didn't see any bears. just the daddy-long-legs, which were everywhere.

by the fire i asked about zoroastrianism, which was one of the world's eight great religions at one time, but is now down to a small minority in iran. and india, one person added, which showed that people weren't entirely ignorant of it. it was a line in the "old-=time religion" song, one guy said; he was a musician, and knew that much. i know virtually nothing about it myself, except that they made these huge tombs that still stand. but what attracts me to it is that they were considered "the keepers of the flame" 0 and that, it seems to me, is on the right track. it may just be me (and my personal inclination), but it seems to me that the fire itself is the very essence of life - at the same time warming, comforting, source of heat, food and light, absolutely necessary in our lives - and also dangerous, easily out of control, easily beyond us and hotter than we can imagine and deal with. i'm always mesmerized by the jumping flames of a typical campfire, and i watch idly as people try to roast marshmallows or hot dogs, usually missing the coals and catching them on fire, until they get older and learn how much better the lightly browned ones are to eat. i breathe in the camp-smoke, and know that it's not good for me, but don't care, because it smells so good, and it seems to bathe my spirit for a while, and make me grateful that i'm out in the woods, once more, with the fresh air and the good-earth feeling.

the pads, sleeping bags and old pillows pulled from the garage along with the tent all had that old mildew smell that repulsed the boys a little and followed us around; the van would be full of it, though we were able to drive with windows open; it's possible that they didn't sleep as well as they could have. i however slept like a baby. the smell only reminds me that i need to go camping more often; that in fact the light of a fresh fall morning needs to fall on everything in my garage; that even when the ground is as hard as it can be, the ease of dreaming, in that woody glade, is the only thing that really wears me out. the rest of it, the hot coffee, the potluck dishes, the watermelon, the smores, the hotdogs and bagels - it all goes down in the history of campouts - one of the nicest, the first in maybe twelve years that didn't get rained out.

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