Friday, April 20, 2012

Campfire conversation


     “Are you bored, Bud?” I asked my 14 year old as he lay sprawled across the couch. “No, not really” was his reply, but his body language and demeanor told another story. “Well, I’m going outside” I shot back. “What are you going to do?” he questioned…What would I do…It was too late in the day to try and hunt mushrooms and the undergrowth taking over the woods would make it nearly impossible to tromp around and look for shed antlers. We could shoot our bows, but this late in the evening would make that short lived and there wasn’t enough time to load up the fishing gear and head out to wet a line…Then it came to me, a fire! “I’m gonna build a campfire”…Almost before I could finish the sentence, he was off the couch, boots on and out the door.

     We gathered up some tender and kindling and made our way to the make shift fire pit at the edge of the woods…In no time, the boy coaxed a good flame from a tiny flicker that would make any seasoned woodsman proud. The April air was just cool enough to make the warmth of the fire welcome. The flames popped and cracked and danced as the smell of hickory smoke, green cedar and even some old kiln dried 2x4’s filled the air…

     We fed the fire and poked at its orange and white coals and watched how they breathed…We talked about hunting and seasons past and upcoming. We talked about shots taken and hits and misses…Deer with giant antlers and gobbling turkeys. We talked bows and arrows and sharpening knives. Trucks and tree stands and survival skills…We talked about fishing and bluegill fillets and ones that got away. We talked about school and friends and classmates and grades…We talked about noises in the dark and night time in the woods.

     From him it was usually “Wouldn’t it be awesome if” or “I wish that we could” and “When I’m older, I’m going too”…and I’d sit back and listen and nod and smile. From me it started with, “When I was your age” and “I remember when” and “We used too”…and he’d sit back and listen and laugh.

     For two solid hours, we did nothing and at the same time it was everything. We leaned into our chairs, prodded the flames, bathed in the wood smoke and slugged our A&W’s from their brown bottles…We joked, we talked, we dreamed and we thought.  We were outdoors…but most of all we just “were”…We were father and son. A middle aged guy and his teenage boy just being what and who we were supposed to be. No cell phones, no notebook or laptop. No Dish or cable, just the two of us…

     The flames start to die down as the last piece of punky wood hisses and pops and sends sparks skyward…I take one last sip of my root beer and glance at the young man to my left silhouetted by the fire and wonder if he’s still bored…