Monday, August 3, 2020

Covid Journal, Day 138: Campfire Smoke

63 this morning, a cool night with windows and doors open, and no AC. What a pleasure.

We had firepit time this evening, after a dinner of our first corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a medley of green beans, new potatoes, onions, squash and carrots, all from the garden. The corn is a fitting tribute to the full moon, called the Green Corn Moon by some--green corn being fresh corn as opposed to dried corn stored for winter use.
The smell of the smoke brought back a flood of memories this evening, of times spent beside a fire. Times like these:
  • picnics with the family when I was a girl, at the Manassas Battlefield Park or a smaller park called Conway Robinson. Mom would pack up a simple dinner, often a pot of spaghetti, or maybe hotdogs or even breakfast foods like eggs and bacon. No matter what we had to eat, there were always marshmallows to roast over the fire. Dad was in his element, hatchet on a hanger on his belt, booted and ready to build the perfect fire. Which he always did. 

Mom at Conway Robinson Park, early 1960's
                                                                 Mom at Conway Robinson Park, late 50's early 60's. 
  • camping with my first four sons. Many weekends when we were looking for a place to move to, we'd take off in our little Chevy van that we had set up for easy camping. We had a big box with our food, all things that needed no refrigeration, and all out utensils. We'd grab the Coleman stove, sleeping bags, eggs and a few other things, and some clean clothes and be out the door in 20 minutes. Then we'd drive to the mountains, usually with a bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill tucked in my bag. When we found a likely spot in the national forest or a roadside park, we'd set up camp and build a fire. After the boys went to sleep we'd sit by the fire with our cheap wine and watch the stars. Mornings, we'd stoke up the fire and make eggs, fried potatoes and tea or coffee. What good times those were, full of the promise of the future.
  • camping here on this land before we got our house built. We built a shed and set up a fire ring for cooking. We'd sleep out under the stars, or if it was raining, inside the shed. 
  • New Year's bonfires, which we did for years, and still do sometimes at our son's house. Friends and family, faces around the fire, stories, singing, food, wine...what good times.

  • storytelling at campfires all around West Virginia. Smoke, rapt faces, ghost stories and ballads. Afterwards my hair and clothes smelling of smoke, but I didn't notice it while I was telling.

  • evenings at my friend Kirk's camp at Buckeye, WV on the Greenbrier River. Poets and musicians, wine, moonshine, laughter, stories and stories and stories.
  • and of course the many, many fires in our firepit, often just me and Larry, the dogs and the cats, quiet evenings listening to night descend.

All good memories, and there are many more I've forgotten to list. A reminder that even in hard times there are still treasures to be had that need little to be discovered. Just a firepit, some wood, a match, and time. 

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


  1. It's amazing how smells can take one back to former times in the blink of an eye. Campfires or even garden bonfires were not a feature of my childhood - Dad was too thrifty for that; all garden waste was composted and larger wood was saved for the heating the house. Even in later life he would be irritated by neighbours lighting bonfires to get rid of their garden waste - "All that goodness going up in smoke!".

  2. Picnics were the best! Remember the picnic box? Singing around the campfire after dinner. Even the cook outs at home, some of my best memories growing up.

  3. The fun of picnics!! Great memories. Tea always tasted the best when it was made over a campfire. We renamed Conway Robinson park Connelly Robinson park because we spent so much time there. We did have a fun childhood.


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